Renewing our investment in circular economy, reducing plastic waste
Jun 30, 2020

In these challenging times, the business community’s responsibility to help solve global issues is more apparent than ever, and at 3M, this means not losing sight of our sustainability commitments. We recognize that plastic waste is a growing threat to our planet, so are proud to help drive increased recycling and circular economy infrastructure through recent reinvestment in the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund.

Earlier today, the Fund announced receipt of more than $54 million in extended capital commitments from its group of founding investors: 3M, Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, Keurig Dr. Pepper, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and The Walmart Foundation. This investment will support the development of additional recycling infrastructure and spur growth and technological innovation around end markets for post-consumer materials across North America.

“At 3M, Science for Circular is one of our top sustainability priorities and we are committed to advancing design solutions that do more with less material,” says Gayle Schueller, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer. “To reach our targets and promote a global circular economy, we need to ensure recycled materials are widely available. Closed Loop Partners is on the front lines of this work and their investment in recycling facilities across the country has driven much needed growth. We are proud of our continued collaboration and aim to build on the momentum we are seeing in the recycling sector to create a better future.”

Since its establishment by Closed Loop Partners in 2014, the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund has leveraged more than $200 million in co-investment from private and public sources, supporting the development of recycling infrastructure, local jobs and new markets in cities across the country, including:

  • Eureka Recycling, Minneapolis, Minnesota: A locally operated nonprofit social enterprise, Eureka recovers nearly 100,000 tons of primarily residential recycling per year. This diverts valuable material from the incinerator or landfill and protects the health and environment of the local community. Eureka prides itself on its best-in-class operation, producing high quality material; the facility has one of the lowest contamination rates in the country. Eighty percent of the facility’s material stays in Minnesota and ninety percent in the Midwest, further spurring local growth. Eureka Recycling works every day to demonstrate that waste is preventable not inevitable.
  • Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA), Florida: Since building its own state-of-the-art single stream facility, the ECUA materials recovery facility has become an asset for a region that had not previously had a long-term or reliable solution for processing recyclables. The facility generates economic benefits in the form of avoided tipping fees and revenue from commodity sales. For the 21-month period starting in January 2017, the facility generated $4.2 million in economic benefits. To date, the facility has operated at a profit margin between 10% and 30%, which gives ECUA capital to invest in other critical water, sewage, and solid waste infrastructure and programs.
  • TemperPack, Virginia: On the forefront of materials science innovation, TemperPack manufactures proprietary plant and fiber-based insulated packaging solutions for cold chain shipments, perishable food and pharmaceuticals. Their products replace the need for styrofoam, a type of plastic that contaminates recycling facilities. Instead, TemperPack’s solutions are certified curbside recyclable, bringing value to recovery systems across the U.S. as their materials are kept in circulation.

The recent reinvestment in the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund will build on the success of these projects and finance similar efforts to accelerate and build circular supply chains. “We still have a lot of work to do in order to optimize recycling facilities across the United States and bring them into the 21st century with state-of-the-art technology. This catalytic capital will help accelerate the transition to a circular economy in which valuable materials are recovered and returned to supply chains through the targeted support of recycling and circular economy infrastructure,” says Bridget Croke, Managing Director at Closed Loop Partners.

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