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Austin, Texas and Philadelphia are the next cities to join Beyond 34: Scaling Circularity for a Sustainable Economy, the multi-stakeholder initiative of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Austin and Philadelphia were chosen because of their commitment to sustainability and the opportunity that exists to make a significant economic and environmental impact through circular solutions, according to the foundation.
Exacerbated by COVID-induced labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and changing consumption patterns, U.S. waste collection systems continue to face major challenges, rate recycling rate in the United States has hovered around 30% in recent decades. To help address these issues, Beyond 34 provides a model of high-impact waste management solutions that can be scaled up for implementation in regions across the country, according to the State Chamber of Commerce Foundation. -United.
Beyond 34 was launched in Orlando, Florida in 2017 with funding from the Walmart Foundation, Target, Republic Services and Walgreens in conjunction with Resource Recycling Systems (RRS), Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2019, it expanded to Cincinnati and aims to demonstrate how to optimize the recycling and recovery of high-value materials generated from commercial, industrial and residential sources.
“For five years, the Beyond 34 initiative has helped communities improve their local recycling, reuse and recovery rates and provided a collaborative platform for the business community to lead the development of solutions that advance l circular economy in the United States, “said Marc DeCourcey, senior vice president of the Washington-based US Chamber Foundation. “We welcome Austin and Philadelphia as the new cities to join our movement and we look forward to seeing the progress they make. “
The foundation says Beyond 34 helps communities and businesses build sustainable local economies by applying a three-phase model: involving stakeholders throughout the waste management value chain; perform analysis to identify areas with the greatest impact; and empower communities to implement solutions.
As one of America’s fastest growing cities, Austin prioritizes sustainability as the path to prosperity. The city is working towards its goal of reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills by 90% by 2040 and has a number of programs that help residents develop the local circular economy. For example, Austin hired zero waste “block leaders” to educate neighbors about recycling and composting, the plastics recycling system and more.
“We know that our ambitious goals for a circular economy here in Austin cannot be achieved alone. We need the support of our nonprofit partners, companies that share our values, and other cities that can pass on their own wisdom – we are all ears and we want to learn, ”said Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin. “That’s why we jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the US Chamber Foundation’s exciting work as part of the Beyond 34 initiative.”
Philadelphia is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and is striving to become 90% zero waste and waste free by 2035. Philadelphia uses data through its SmartCityPHL program to help it become more efficient and improve the quality of life of its residents. .
“We are working diligently to make the ‘smart city’ a holistic planning paradigm in Philadelphia, much like the term ‘sustainability’ has become,” says Mark Wheeler, chief information officer for the city. “We need innovative technologies, quality data and partnerships, especially partnerships like those of the Beyond 34 initiative, to achieve a local circular economy that will provide fair employment opportunities, create resilient communities and will support global climate goals. ”
The Chamber of Commerce Foundation says that through tools like the Beyond 34 Recycling and Salvage Resource Center, cities across the country can learn from other regions that are tackling barriers and taking action towards the waste disposal.
Since its launch, The Coca-Cola Co., Coca-Cola Consolidated, Kroger Co., Dow, the Plastics Industry Association, Procter and Gamble, Republic Services, Target, Walgreens Boots Alliance and the Walmart Foundation have supported the Beyond 34 program, with Walmart.org and Walgreens funding expansion to Austin and Philadelphia.
“The Beyond 34 model provides important information and resources to cities and regions across the country,” says Chelsea Scantlan, sustainability program manager at Walmart.org. “The Walmart Foundation is proud to support the expansion of Beyond 34 in Austin and Philadelphia. Strong policies and public sector activities to reduce waste are essential complements to private sector investments. Shifting to behaving and operating in a circular economy will require everyone to strategically work together, exactly the kind of systemic change that we strive to enable at The Walmart Foundation. “
“Beyond 34 is a perfect way to bring together like-minded people to solve problems like waste, recycling and problematic plastics,” said John Kotlarczyk, senior director, waste reduction, Walgreens Boots Alliance. “By collaborating with members of the communities we serve and other businesses in those communities, we are confident that we can make an impact. By lending our support, we are not only doing our part, but we also hope to inspire others to do their part as well. “