by Maggie Gainer
While Zero Waste Humboldt appreciates several regional and national Zero Waste and recycling organizations, we are excited by a new coalition recently founded by four of the original pioneers of mission-driven, community-based nonprofit recycling. Eureka Recycling (Minneapolis), Eco-Cycle (Boulder), Ecology Center (Berkeley), and Recycle Ann Arbor (contemporaries of the now-defunct, nonprofit, Arcata Community Recycling Center) joined together to form the Alliance of Mission-Based Recyclers (AMBR) in 2019.
With decades of operational experience and track records of proven performance and industry credibility, combined with environmental mission-driven values, this coalition is what has been missing from the guidance government needs for recycling services, national discourse and policy development. AMBR members collect and sort tons of recyclables each month and offer transparency in the issues of packaging design, materials recovery facilities, and authentic marketing of materials to buyers who remanufacture recyclables into new products. Local government materials recovery facility (MRF) contracting and operations are a critical focal point for rebuilding the U.S. recycling stream to restore trust, improving labor conditions and ensuring recyclable material is truly being manufactured into new products.
From their vantage point of practical experience, they can propose and implement systemic solutions. They emphasize that we don’t have a recycling problem– we have a packaging and plastics problem. They assert that there is a right and a wrong way to run recycling programs. AMBR will help develop and amplify model operational standards, contracting language, labor best practices and other tools to accelerate higher environmental and social standards in recycling operations.
While the food and beverage, plastics, packaging, and hauling industries regularly create new nonprofits to “educate” the public about how to recycle, ZWH is pleased to see the AMBR coalition’s leadership on the national scene.