ASTRX is on a mission to learn more about the U.S. recycling system and use that knowledge to help capture and recycle more materials. In 2018, the ASTRX team focused on two key pieces of that system: the MRF and the reprocessor. ASTRX conducted a series of contextual interviews with MRFs and reprocessors in order to better understand what types of packaging consistently present problems for one or both pieces of the recycling system. This research identifies areas where changes to packaging design or infrastructure could help the end-of-life outcomes for all packaging.
ASTRX developed the Navigating the Recycling System guide to serve as a resource to anyone interested in developing a better understanding of how a particular package flows through the five steps of the recycling system. The guide poses a series of questions to be used as a starting point for a conversation about the recyclability of a product. We consider this tool a jumping off point for discussions of product recyclability. For the purposes of this report, ASTRX adapted the Navigating the Recycling System guide into the regional example shared below, which shows how materials might flow in one part of the country. We do not consider the matrix to be comprehensive, as it does not include the same level of details as Navigating the Recycling System, but is rather a way to view summary level information about materials discussed in this report at a glance, for one region of the country.
Hear from the ASTRX staff about the report and their findings in this recording of our May 2019 webinar: