Recovering the $6 Billion in Materials Sent to Landfills Each Year


In the U.S., $1.2 billion worth of aluminum cans goes into landfills each year. Alcoa had been working for many years to recover a higher portion of this value by trying to increase aluminum recycling rates from 58% to 75%, but had experienced only incremental improvements.


Increasing aluminum recycling couldn’t feasibly be addressed without increasing recycling rates for all packaging and printed materials (PPM). While there is an estimated $6 billion of PPM tossed into landfills each year, many efforts to increase recycling rates have failed due to a lack of collaboration among the major players along the value chain, and no clear vision of how the system could work together economically. Asked to search for an unlock to this problem, Blu Skye’s fresh approach to system change involved convening the major stakeholders to create a lasting change in U.S. recycling rates.

Our Role:

  • Analyze the system: We began by analyzing what systems (i.e., types of materials) would need to be engaged to reach the recycling goal for aluminum. We also identified the key levers to overcome historical obstacles to collaboration and innovation.
  • Convene the system: We designed a “System-in-the-Room” summit to catalyze broad-based action from the value chain to increase access to recycling infrastructure, consumer education and incentives.
  • Build momentum: We focused on near-term actions and driving break-through thinking and initiatives across the CPG packaging industry.


  • Aligned over 90 influential participants from 77 organizations on a goal to increase recycling of all PPM by 20 percentage points by 2015.
  • Initiated four near-term high-potential projects backed by a wide range of stakeholders.
  • Formed an industry-led, voluntary, and action oriented coalition to continue the project momentum (in process).
  • In 2011, the U.S. recycling rate rose by 7 points from 2010.
  • A multi-million dollar funding commitment to Action to Accelerate Recycling was announced at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012.


“The Blu Skye team did an outstanding and professional job.  They held the interest of the group through the process and kept the creative juices of the attendee flowing … no easy task!”

-Dennis Sabourin, National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR)


“In my 23 years in this industry, this is the single most forward step I have seen.”

-Will Sagar, Southeast Recycling Development Council