Recycling Development Center

The Recycling Development Center (RDC) focuses on developing domestic markets for Washington’s recyclable materials. The RDC is a partnership between Ecology and the Washington Department of Commerce (Commerce). Our efforts include convening discussions, supporting innovations, conducting research, and providing business assistance. Our partners at Commerce provide business, marketing, and technical assistance to the public and private sectors.


The Washington Legislature established the RDC in July 2019 (Chapter 70A.240 RCW). The law tasks the RDC with facilitating research and development, marketing, and policy analysis to bolster recycling markets and processing in Washington.

The RDC’s efforts work to establish a circular economy. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines the circular economy as a system where materials never become waste and nature is regenerated. In a circular economy, products and materials are kept in circulation through processes like maintenance, reuse, refurbishment, remanufacture, recycling, and composting. The circular economy tackles climate change and other global challenges, like biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution, by decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources.

A graphic illustrating a straight line for the linear economy, opposed to the circular economy that includes recycling, reuse, and repair.
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The RDC brings people and information together

A 14-member advisory board provides guidance for the RDC’s work. This diverse group is a mix of public agencies, private industry, universities, and nonprofits. They advise Ecology and Commerce as we explore changes to state policies and improvements to recycling markets. 

The RDC hosts quarterly advisory board meetings where we hear from experts on recyclable materials. This provides valuable information and expertise sharing about points of entry into the market, from hauling to making products from recyclable materials (like paper, plastic, textiles, or expanded polystyrene or EPS). These meetings are open to the public and are typically hybrid, held both online and in-person, with the location rotating around the state. Most meetings are followed with a tour of a facility related to end markets using recyclable materials. 

Learn more about the RDC advisory board. 

The more the RDC can connect with industry the more we can facilitate connections. Recent tours include: 

  • North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC) in Longview 
  • Refugee Artisan Initiative in Lake City
  • 911 Glass Rescue in Chelan
  • McConkey & Company in Sumner
  • Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) in Clackamas, Oregon 
  • Styro Recycle in Kent

Let us know if you have a facility we should see! 

Identifying barriers and finding solutions is only possible with connections to the community. After hearing that interest was growing for new solutions to recycling glass in Eastern Washington, the RDC hosted a Glass Summit in Union Gap, Wash. in May 2023. The summit explored sustainable and innovative ways to solve the glass recycling problem. Community groups, academics, county, city, local, and international businesses were all represented and shared relevant and timely information. 

We will continue to host meetings to bring interested parties together to reduce barriers and get us all closer to a circular economy. Reach out if you have questions or need to make connections.

Resources from May 2023 Eastern Washington Glass Summit:

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NextCycle Washington 

The RDC joined with King County Solid Waste Division, Seattle Public Utilities, and Commerce to develop NextCycle Washington. Washington is one of only three states to use the groundbreaking NextCycle platform to invest in market development and boost the circular economy. Michigan and Colorado are the other two states using the platform.

NextCycle Washington connects entrepreneurs, companies, and communities to technical support, financial resources, and capacity-building for projects focused on waste prevention and material recycling, recovery, and reuse. NextCycle Washington offers accelerator support customized to the RDC’s goals and resources (startups receive mentorship and technical support, culminating in a polished pitch) . 

The NextCycle Washington online platform offers data in the form of infrastructure and end-market gap analyses, waste characterization studies, and other economic, market, and demographic information. That data includes curated resources that support the accelerator team projects through business plan and pitch development. 

A few of those resources include:

  • Gap Analysis – a review of the gaps and opportunities
  • Circular Resilience map – The Environmental Risk and Threats to Resilience map illuminates the relationships between community-focused circular economies and the compounding threats to community resilience.
  • Circular Funding Resource Guide – for entrepreneurs to find funding that matches their mission

NextCycle Washington Accelerator

NextCycle Washington’s accelerator opportunities are offered to teams made up of entrepreneurs, organizations, universities, communities, or a collaboration of entities seeking support to further develop or grow their project or business. Selected teams receive several months of technical support to further develop business or project plans, market approaches, and investment pitches. Programming includes multi-day boot camps where teams come together with industry experts for coaching, pitch practice, and business plan development. These highly interactive events encourage networking, peer-to-peer learning, and engagement with advisors. NextCycle Washington programming also highlights opportunities for grants, private funding, and investment.

The accelerator teams’ efforts culminate with a showcase event to pitch their projects to an audience of business and community leaders, association representatives, potential investors, and subject matter experts who also serve as judges. Showcases provide important exposure and recognition for the accelerator team’s work. 

The showcase can include monetary awards and recognition.

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Learn more about Washington’s recycling end markets

Several research efforts provide more information about recycling end markets in Washington. The RDC continues to invest in research to understand Washington’s businesses, non-profits, and innovators taking part in the circular economy. As our connections grow so will our ability to connect recyclable materials to end markets. 

Check out these resources to learn more: 

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Commerce provides business assistance

Visit the Choose Washington website to see the services offered by Commerce. 

Examples include: 

  • Property search
  • County data
  • Compare communities
  • Industry/business data
  • Permitting & regulations
  • Utilities
  • Incentives
  • Transportation
  • Innovation partnership zones
  • Foreign trade zones
  • Workspaces, incubators, accelerators
  • Focus on key sectors

You can reach out to Commerce for more information by emailing or calling 206-256-6100. Or email Kirk Esmond (he/him) - Sustainable Business Development Director