The Client

The Carton Council is a group of the major carton manufacturers servicing the U.S., working voluntarily to divert valuable cartons from local landfills. RRS’s engagement in the campaign is comprehensive – across all segments of the supply chain for end-of-life management of post-consumer cartons.

The Challenge

The Carton Council is dedicated to providing access to carton recycling across the nation with the ultimate goal being efficient recovery of every carton sold in the U.S. In some cases, local and state legislation can help drive access and recovery, and needs to be fostered. In other cases, proposed legislation might hinder efficient recovery, and more beneficial solutions should be fostered. These opportunities and threats need to be identified and addressed, and speed of play is critical.


In keeping with the Carton Council’s proactive strategies, RRS works not only on emerging legislation; we take our response one step further by engaging in pre-legislative  efforts to position carton-friendly policies at the forefront of state-level discussions. Critical components of this work include tracking and analysis of existing and proposed legislation, evaluation of the root goals and political factors surrounding legislation, and exploration and development of alternatives that would boost efficiency and recovery.

To stay abreast of leanings and potential legislation, RRS has developed specialized tools that make both legislative and pre-legislative tracking easier for the members of Carton Council’s Strategic Policy committee. We develop, maintain, and update interactive national heat maps hosted on a Google-based interface. This platform allows committee members to efficiently follow who is doing what relative to carton recycling policy and legislation. It also provides for nimble and quick support for committee members seeking more detailed information regarding items included in the heat map.

As we uncover potential legislation, RRS engages in additional research, including interviews with key stakeholders, to better understand the implications and end goals. We then work through creation and implementation of strategies to shape and influence legislation to further support carton recycling. This can involve development of specific policy language and approaches to maximize recovery in efficient public/private partnership, assistance with political commentary for media or other use, and drafting of collateral material. These pieces are tailored and nuanced for each unique situation, using on the ground knowledge of local interests, targets and goals.

As a part of strategy development, RRS uses its breadth of contacts in the professional recycling community, and its years of experience in working with legislation both local and national, to bring key elected officials and political influencers into the dialog for support of carton recycling. Collaborations and partnerships can be very powerful, and we work to create mutually advantageous alliances for common interests where appropriate.

For pre-legislative states – those that have a high potential for pursuing or entertaining legislation that could affect carton recycling – RRS works to increase carton recycling support and awareness among a broader audience of key decision makers, influencers, gatekeepers and elected officials. Initial efforts targeted large-scale communities – populations of greater than 250,000 – along with state-level influencers. Now RRS is supporting Carton Council throughout small to mid-sized communities, too.

Key components of our pre-legislative work include establishing an influential presence at professional conferences and through other networks, providing resources and online support, coordinating targeted webinars, and all of the related tracking, targeting, branding and material development. We also strategically apply other aspects of the Carton Council’s access campaign to pre-legislative states to further build name recognition, increase recovery, and create a groundswell of understanding of the efforts and accomplishments of the entire campaign.

Results and Successes

RRS has honed these tools and approaches to be on point for any notable legislative opportunity or obstacle. This work has played an integral part in the success of the entire campaign. In short, access to carton recycling has nearly tripled since we began our work with the Carton Council in 2009, and it currently is enjoyed by half of the country (and growing).

The policy map warrants particular celebration. It incorporates networks, contacts and experts across the country to assist in the maintenance and delivery of up-to-date information and analysis. This information is well organized, quick to download and on point, making it an effective tool for the decision makers involved.

On the state level, RRS has assisted the Carton Council in a number of pre-legislative and legislative efforts. One remarkable outcome was in California, where a bill was proposed to include cartons in the statewide deposit system. This approach would have been far less efficient for cartons than traditional curbside recycling, especially considering that only some cartons were slated for inclusion in the legislation. RRS assisted the Carton Council in educating California legislators about the issue, which resulted in the removal of cartons from the bill. We are continuing to work toward building additional access and recovery across the state, incorporating the integrated approach that has made this the leading producer responsibility campaign in the U.S.