Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) is excited to recognize the release of a five-year Circular Economy Strategy and Action Plan, which was developed by the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) as part its Circular Great Lakes Initiative, with extensive research support and advice from RRS. CGLR’s goal is to bring a broad coalition, diverse perspectives and interests together to forge a future without waste and litter in the bi-national Great Lakes region, starting with plastics.

Nearly 5 million pieces of plastic litter were collected along the Great Lakes’ shoreline between 2015 and 2020 according to the gap analysis RRS performed to develop the Action Plan. Furthermore, the analysis of materials management best practices found that in order to achieve the U.S. EPA’s national recycling rate of 50% in the region on the way to closing the loop and forming a circular materials economy, an additional 3 million tons of plastics with a commodity value of over $400 million must be recovered and recycled, requiring 60% more processing capacity and a stable and scalable marketplace across the region.

With data and insights from over 20 leading multi-sector and multi-stakeholder groups representing business, government, academia, and the non-profit sector, the Circular Economy Strategy and Action Plan provides a clear roadmap for pursuing the policy and consumer behavior changes, as well as the investments in collection and processing expansion modernization and end market development, necessary to accelerate the transition to a regional circular economy.

“The RRS Team is proud to work with CGLR through its Circular Great Lakes initiative to transform the way plastic waste is currently managed in the Great Lakes Region. The Plan details practical steps to capture more of today’s most prevalent forms of packaging for new product manufacture locally in U.S. and Canada.  From our work with the paper industry to  achieve high recycling rates for their material, we know private-public partnership is critical to success” said Susan Graff, Vice President, Global Corporate Sustainability at RRS.

“80% of the region’s post-consumer waste is lost to landfills, including valuable films and flexible plastics, or worse, it’s ending up in our environment as litter and plastic pollution in the Great Lakes,” said Mark Fisher, President and CEO, CGLR. “Circular Great Lakes is a united effort between industry, government, academia, and the non-profit sector to pursue the circular economy priorities, projects and systems changes demanded by consumers and required to achieve a future without material waste.

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