- NextCycle, a enterprise accelerator program for recycling market improvement initiatives, is making its pitch as a device for advancing state round financial system plans and serving to companies develop in Michigan, Colorado and Washington.
- In a Wednesday webinar hosted by the Northeast Recycling Council, public and private-sector recyclers and companies mentioned how NextCycle helped them plug right into a community of enterprise connections, funding alternatives and technical consultants to extra rapidly set up higher tools, develop rural entry to recycling and velocity up enterprise enlargement.
- Presenters mentioned the enterprise accelerator mannequin is a vital method to construct investments and partnerships throughout the recycling system, which not solely helps get initiatives achieved sooner however strengthens ties between state environmental businesses, municipalities, recyclers, finish markets and tools producers.
As extra states cross legal guidelines elevating diversion objectives and establishing prolonged producer duty applications, NextCycle sees itself as a method to assist companies and municipalities preserve tempo with elevated round financial system calls for.
These trying to begin or develop recycling or waste diversion initiatives usually face roadblocks comparable to funding points, a scarcity of key companions, unsure finish markets or inadequate help by means of progress planning, mentioned Elisa Seltzer, a senior marketing consultant for Useful resource Recycling Techniques.
NextCycle is an initiative of RRS, together with every taking part state’s environmental company and numerous industry partners such because the Carton Council, Closed Loop Companions, Dow, the Foodservice Packaging Institute and state recycling coalitions.
Candidates can select totally different “tracks” primarily based on their enterprise objectives, however the finish result’s to take a selected challenge – say a facility enlargement or an R&D purpose – from spark to actuality.
A lot of the webinar centered on this system’s impression in Michigan, a state that goals to boost its recycling fee to 30% by 2025 and 45% by 2030. The present fee is about 19.3%.
Matt Flechter, recycling market improvement specialist for the Michigan Division of Surroundings, Nice Lakes, and Power mentioned the state must put money into recycling markets and round financial system initiatives in an effort to get wherever near gathering the estimated 2.7 million tons of fabric wanted to achieve the 45% recycling fee purpose. EGLE leads NextCycle within the state.
“Markets are vitally essential to create that demand pull, but additionally ensure that the system is working in order that these supplies could make their method into finish makes use of that producers want,” he mentioned.
Since NextCycle Michigan was first introduced in 2020, it has supported 90 totally different groups engaged on foam recycling applications, municipal knowledge assortment initiatives for market feasibility research, vermicompost startups and extra, Seltzer mentioned.
Paulina Leung, chief sustainability officer for Emterra, mentioned connecting with NextCycle helped velocity up two main infrastructure objectives. The recycler used EGLE grants to buy a robotic to kind foodservice ware and one other sorter for its glass stream, which she says will develop its partnerships with switch stations and smaller MRFs which have much less potential to kind cartons, she mentioned.
Emterra additionally secured funding for a brand new training middle at its Lansing MRF, and used its NextCycle connections to get recommendation on how finest to design its academic content material.
Rebecca Hu, co-founder of AI robotics sorter firm Glacier, mentioned NextCycle helped the corporate develop from balmy San Francisco into Michigan, the place it should high quality check its latest fashions in Michigan’s harsh winter when put in at two space MRFs. “We’re excited to hit the bottom operating, and we hope this can be a case examine” for additional enterprise enlargement, she mentioned.
Whereas NextCycle is well-established in Michigan, this system was first established in Colorado, the place the state’s Division of Public Well being and Surroundings heads it up together with comparable private and non-private companions to Michigan’s mannequin. Thus far, 24 groups have launched initiatives to enhance recycling and reuse within the state, together with Desk to Farm Compost, which wanted assist constructing a marketing strategy and discovering funding sources to open its first facility serving rural areas of the state, Seltzer mentioned.
Companies and municipalities are making these investments as Colorado will get able to implement a new EPR for packaging law, which calls on packaging producers to assist finance a statewide recycling program.
NextCycle Washington launched its program this 12 months. It’s within the strategy of designing the way it will match the state’s distinctive wants and is working particularly to create a program construction with underserved communities on the desk, mentioned Kamal Patel, co-founder of Traversal Design, who’s providing technical help for this system. That features creating extra accessible communication methods, making certain group members make up at the very least half of decision-making roles and figuring out limitations which may make the NextCycle utility course of tough.
“We need to encourage extra participation, extra inclusion, extra collaboration. However to do this, we have to have a paradigm shift on how we interact with communities,” mentioned Patel.