America’s leading plastic companies today outlined five sustainable actions Congress can take immediately to grow the circular economy for plastics through a comprehensive, national strategy. The strategy includes a national standard that all plastic packaging contains at least 30% recycled plastic by 2030, development of an appropriate regulatory system that enables rapid scaling of advanced recycling, and an American-designed producer responsibility system for packaging that raises critical funding dedicated to improving recycling access, collection and education for all materials.
“It’s time to accelerate the circular economy for plastic packaging,” said ACC’s Joshua Baca, vice president, plastics. “We need Congress to act on a comprehensive national strategy that will capture the value of used plastic by engaging the entire plastics value chain, from plastic makers to brand companies to all Americans.
“We’re proposing a new way of looking at plastic waste that will lead to a circular economy in which plastics are routinely reused. These policies will divert plastic waste from landfills and our ocean, conserve natural resources, and help drive down greenhouse gas emissions.”
The proposals include:
- Require all plastic packaging to include at least 30% recycled plastic by 2030 through a national recycled plastics standard.
- Create a modern regulatory system that enables rapid scaling of advanced recycling while continuing to grow mechanical recycling.
- Direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to bring together the plastics value chain and municipalities to develop a national recycling framework for plastics.
- Engage the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study that compares the impacts of raw materials and use its findings to guide future policies.
- Establish an American-designed producer responsibility system for packaging to help increase recycling access, collection and outreach for all materials, including plastics.
A recent report by the Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS) projects that the U.S. will need to recycle 13 billion pounds of plastic through both traditional mechanical recycling and advanced recycling to achieve 30% recycled plastic in packaging by 2030. Baca noted that advanced recycling allows more volumes and types of plastics to be recycled than can be achieved with current processes. “These technologies and capabilities can help the more than 400 global brands that have committed to using more recycled plastics in their packaging to achieve their circular business goals,” Baca said. “Advanced recycling also will allow recycled plastics to be used broadly in more demanding applications, such as packaging for food, pharmaceutical and medical grade products, which is currently limited.”
These advanced technologies will help achieve America’s Plastic Makers’ two ambitious circular economy goals: 100% of U.S. plastic packaging is recyclable or recoverable by 2030, and 100% is re-used, recycled or recovered by 2040. A strong majority (83%) of Americans support the plastics industry taking “big, bold steps to address plastic waste,” according to a recent survey of 1,400+ Americans by BCW.
The survey also found 82% of Americans are looking for solutions that allow plastics to be reused, and 84% support advanced recycling technologies that convert plastic waste into new plastics and products. The survey showed broad, bipartisan support across parties, ideologies and demographics. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans say they want the plastics industry to work with the Biden administration, indicating that most Americans see the plastic waste issue as too important to get sidetracked by partisan politics.