Novelis, a global leader in aluminum rolling and recycling company based in Atlanta, and Habitat for Humanity International announced May 3 they will launch a new initiative to encourage recycling in local communities. Novelis will provide recycling bins and monetary grants to help Habitat organizations in the U.S. and Canada increase neighborhood sustainability.
As part of the recycling initiative, 140 local Habitat organizations across the U.S. and Canada will work with civic groups, businesses, and community partners to improve recycling and generate a new sustainable funding source to advance Habitat’s mission of increasing access to safe affordable housing. Local Habitat affiliates will lead campaigns focused on aluminum can recycling. The aluminum will be taken to local recycling centers, where Habitat will receive funding equivalent to the amount of aluminum collected. The U.S. and Canadian Habitat affiliates that collect the most aluminum cans by weight will receive an additional $3,000 grant for third place, $5,000 for second place, and $10,000 for first place.
“Aluminum is the most valuable material in our recycle bins, and can be a sustainable source of funding for organizations like Habitat that can use the value of recycled aluminum to increase access to affordable housing,” says Ashley Gravlee, Novelis’ corporate social responsibility manager. “Yet each year across North America, more than $1 billion worth of aluminum is being sent to landfills.
“By tying aluminum recycling to the worthy mission of Habitat, we hope people will understand that through the simple act of recycling, they can benefit their local community and the environment, all while keeping a valuable resource out of landfills,” she adds.
The funding generated by the value of the aluminum and Novelis grants will support Habitat’s mission to build and repair safer, affordable housing within communities. “Habitat’s work looks different in each community,” Gravlee notes. “Whether it be new home construction, home repairs, disaster recovery, or assisting older residents with home modifications.”
The latest initiative began with a pilot phase in November 2020, when the organizations launched a recycling challenge grant for U.S. and Canadian Habitat affiliates to collect aluminum. From November to January, 39 affiliates recycled 1 million aluminum cans. Novelis donated $5,000 to the winning Habitat group and $1,000 to each participating organization. The Grand Island Area Habitat for Humanity received the grand prize, recycling 12,628 pounds in three months for $4,418. Novelis expects to at minimum double the number of cans recycled during the competition period starting in June, Gravlee says.
The pilot showed connecting aluminum recycling to a sustainable funding source for Habitat is viable; Habitat organizations are enthusiastic about it. By engaging local residents, community leaders, and businesses, the program helps increase awareness about Habitat and affordable housing within communities.
Novelis and Habitat used pilot participants’ feedback to strengthen, refine, and broaden their approach for the new competition. Some pilot participants reported the program was their first opportunity at grants and funding in nearly one year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Others said it gave them something new and uplifting to share with their communities. New partnerships also emerged as Habitat organizations began to think creatively about recycling in their communities. Novelis hopes the program will encourage communities to realize the value of recycling and inspire them to strengthen their local recycling infrastructure.
Novelis has helped Habitat “continuously find improved ways to take better care of our neighborhoods,” notes Colleen Finn Ridenhour, Habitat’s chief development officer. “Safe, affordable housing can only be sustainable in healthy environments, and this initiative is just one of the ways Novelis is helping us revitalize communities.”
Novelis has partnered with Habitat since 2011 in a range of activities. Novelis employees have volunteered to build houses and initiated fundraisers to help build homes in partnership with families in their communities. In 2017, Novelis committed to a five-year, $1 million donation to Habitat. Aditya Birla Group, Novelis’ parent, has a 15-year partnership with Habitat in response to the urgent housing need in India.
Images courtesy of Novelis and Habitat for Humanity International. Caption for first photo: A Habitat homeowner whose home in Atlanta, Georgia was funded completely by the value of recycled aluminum as part of Novelis’ recycling program with Habitat.