Brattleboro Company Promotes Recycling In Public Spaces

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(Host) A year-old Brattleboro company is growing quickly by responding to the habits of an on-the-go culture.

The company, Recycle Away, designs recycling systems and bins for the many beverage containers people consume away from home.

VPR’s Susan Keese has more.

(Bottles and cans crunching into bin)

(Keese)That’s the sound recycling entrepreneur Michael Alexander hopes will save lots of natural resources and energy  – and make his fortune.

(Alexander) " That’s the plan."

(Keese) We’re at a bus pavilion in downtown Brattleboro looking at a pair of blue metal receptacles Alexander’s company designed for the town.

One is clearly marked landfill. The other has a circular opening and the words ‘bottles and cans only.’

(Alexander) "It’s a steel cart. That has a polycarbonate window in it. You can see through it so you know it’s recyclables. This is a specific design that we did to meet how the town’s recycling program works."

(Keese) Brattleboro is one of several hundred clients Recycle Away has worked with on what he says is a pressing need. Others include Hewlett Packard, several colleges and universities, a new facility that Google built in Pennsylvania, and the parks of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Alexander worked for 20 years in the non-profit side of recycling — advocating, consulting, developing markets and policy.

During those years, he says residential and workplace recycling became a mainstream activity.

But lifestyles changed too. People became more mobile, more likely to grab a meal or snack away from home.

Alexander says the recycling movement hasn’t kept up with the explosion of single-serving beverage containers in the past two decades.

(Alexander) "We’re talking about water bottles, were talking about ice teas, sports drinks, soda – all the products that now line four or five walls of every convenience store."

(Keese) Alexander says 300 billion of these bottles and cans are purchased each year and many are consumed in public spaces.

But only a small percentage find their way into the recycling stream.

Recycle Away works with multiple manufacturers who can make containers for specific places and situations.

The company isn’t alone in trying to address the problem of public space recycling. But it’s clearly meeting a need.

The business started with a website. As soon as it went up, the phones started ringing.

(Alexander) "Our first customer was Athens-Clark County, Georgia called about five minutes after we went live and said, ‘I’ll take 10 big bottle recyclers,’ and really the growth has been astronomical."

Alexander says he actually welcomes competition because — anticipated profits aside – the common goal is to make it easy for everyone to be green.

For VPR New, I’m Susan Keese.

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