• Sara Zellner

Public-Private Partnerships and Community Recycling

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are an influential way for companies to implement corporate responsibility activities while having a significant impact on communities and the customers they serve.



Collaborative in nature, PPPs unite one or more companies with key governmental entities around a common community goal. Nonprofit organizations that add technical knowledge or access to populations of interest are often included in the partnership.


What Makes a Public-Private Partnership Successful?

Given the disparate backgrounds and goals that bring collaborators together, PPPs typically consist of three core elements that help to ensure their success.

  • Lead Organizer: After deciding upon the goal and confirming that all relevant stakeholders are involved, a lead organizer of the PPP should be designated to oversee the coordination and assignment of tasks and to make certain that activities are executed in a timely manner. Staff from one organization or multiple organizations within the PPP can serve to manage the organizing aspects. Or a separate entity with a vested interest in the goals of the PPP can perform this responsibility.

  • Technical Expertise: While members of the PPP can be from any field or background, at least one of the members should have deep subject matter expertise in the issue that the PPP will address. Such knowledge will allow the partnership to better assess the root causes of the issue and provide viable options for PPP members to pursue to remedy the challenge.

  • Internal Commitment: PPP members should obtain internal organizational approval and dedication to the goals of the PPP from senior management. This commitment should ideally be binding through organizational changes or other shifts in priorities to assure the continuity of PPP involvement and support. Because many community challenges are frequently multifaceted and stem from a variety of social challenges, several years may be required for the PPP to make a positive impact and reach its established goals. Organizations should therefore anticipate a multi-year commitment in any PPP endeavor.


For an in-depth exploration into how PPPs work in practice, check out our case study below on such a partnership called Beyond 34, a cross-sector project aimed at increasing the recycling rate in the United States. The project aims to help communities, cities, and businesses across the country create a more circular, sustainable future.

Beyond 34 Case Study
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