In 2015, Americans produced 262.4 million tons of municipal solid waste, which equates to 4.48 pounds per person per day. Of this waste, 67.8 million tons were recycled. But once you put a plastic bottle in a recycling bin – where does it go How does it get sorted and by whom? Can recyclable materials drive economic development? TSC is partnering with the Northwest Arkansas Council to develop a roadmap for economic development in the region based on the circular movement of recycled and recovered materials.
The complexity of Northwest Arkansas provides a rich environment to explore how to create a circular economy that meets the needs of such a diverse region. Understanding how to leverage circularity for economic development here will provide valuable insights for creating similar systems elsewhere.
Develop a map of the existing Northwest Arkansas waste management system to identify:
- Volume and composition of existing recycling streams from municipal sources;
- Existing infrastructure (e.g., facilities, processors, end-markets) and potential gaps;
- Potential for incorporating commercial material streams using plastic film (single-layer wraps and bags) as a case study;