In Case You Missed It: ‘Yes, We Can Modernize Chicago’s Recycling Infrastructure’

Posted Aug. 16, 2023

CHICAGO – Following the recent announcement of a $3 million investment from the beverage industry’s Every Bottle Back initiatve to Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS), Crain’s Chicago Business published an op-ed by Brad Harden, president of the Illinois Beverage Association. The piece details how this investment will help to get more of the beverage industry’s 100% recyclable bottles and cans back and the long-lasting, positive change modernized recycling infrastructure is expected to have in Chicago’s collection system.  

Read the full op-ed here or below.

Chicago is known for innovation. It’s a place where trailblazers from all industries and walks of life make their mark. It is also the birthplace of modern architecture and a destination for travelers worldwide. Now comes a new, bold reimagining of the city’s recycling system that will make Chicago home to the latest in state-of-the-art recycling infrastructure.

According to the city’s data, only about 9% of Chicagoans’ waste is recycled. A $3 million investment from the beverage industry’s Every Bottle Back initiative aims to  improve collection infrastructure for the city and those who call it home.  

Every Bottle Back was launched by American Beverage and America’s leading beverage companies — the Coca-Cola Co., Keurig Dr Pepper, and PepsiCo — to reduce the industry’s use of new plastic by increasing the collection and remaking of our 100% recyclable bottles. Every Bottle Back is leveraging a $400 million investment to improve recycling infrastructure and education to help make recycling easier and more efficient. As a result of these actions, we hope to collect every single one of our bottles and cans so they can be remade not just once, but over and over again.

The Illinois Beverage Association and its beverage companies have joined with leading circular economy investment firm, Closed Loop Partners, and Chicago’s Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS) to significantly expand recycling infrastructure in our area and improve recycling rates along the way.

At full operational capacity the new 10-acre facility will house modern recycling technology that ensures recyclable materials are sorted and processed efficiently and effectively. When fully operational the new facility is expected to process around 280 million pounds of recyclable materials per year including approximately 10 million pounds of PET plastic and three million pounds of aluminum. 

Chicago is home to 2.7 million people and brings in millions of tourists each year. We are thrilled to see major changes to enable our city to better manage the influx of valuable recyclable materials so they can be properly collected, sorted and recycled. Moreover, this impactful investment will help keep our parks and shorelines clean and beautiful.

At the Illinois Beverage Association, we work to make an impact in the communities we live in and serve. This includes larger communities like Chicago and smaller communities like LaSalle and Villa Park, which earlier this year received funding through the Every Bottle Back initiative to provide new recycling carts and improve recycling infrastructure.

We have seen an increase of hundreds of millions of pounds of raw materials recycled since the inception of Every Bottle Back. We’re hopeful that the trend continues here in Illinois as we do our part to preserve its beauty and create a more circular economy for our bottles and cans.