As part of its recognition of America Recycles Day on Nov. 17, America’s plastic makers called on Congress to work with industry to prioritize recycling legislation in 2021.
“The plastics industry has set an ambitious goal of reusing, recycling, or recovering 100% of plastic packaging in the US by 2025,” said Joshua Baca, Vice President, Plastics, for the American Chemistry Council (ACC). “All of us have an interest in ensuring that plastics are collected and recycled into new and valuable products instead of ending up in our environment, and success will require many forms of collaboration.
“We look forward to working with Congress on ways to create more circular solutions for plastics. Last month we released a Roadmap to Reuse, a framework that outlines steps to grow recycling and recovery in the US and guiding principles for eliminating plastic waste that can help shape legislation and other actions to help grow recycling and recovery of plastics.”
Some of those guiding principles include:
- National standards for recycling programs, education, and plastic bales to harmonize best practices and greatly scale buying and selling of recycled plastics;
- multi-material packaging fees and higher disposal fees to support funding for basic collection, access to infrastructure, and consumer education;
- recycled content legislation;
- updated regulatory frameworks that classify advanced recycling technologies as manufacturing processes instead of waste disposal, which helps advanced recycling technology providers expand and create new economic opportunities to repurpose plastics into valuable new feedstocks for plastics and other products of chemistry.
On Nov. 20, the ACC and its members applauded the EPA’s first-ever National Recycling Goal to increase the US recycling rate to 50% by 2030 and called on Congress to support it. “The ACC and its members fully endorse EPA’s 50 by 30 strategy and goals, as they closely align with our own commitments to eliminate plastic waste through a circular economy,” stated Baca. “This shift to a more comprehensive national strategy will help create a stronger, more resilient domestic recycling system and help address plastic waste in the environment.”
Already there has been significant progress in domestic investments in the US recycling system, according to ACC’s information. In the last three years, 64 projects in mechanical and advanced recycling in the United States have been announced, valued at $5.4 billion. Together, these projects have the potential to divert more than four million metric tons (approximately 8.9 billion pounds) of waste from landfills each year. In addition, many ACC members have made significant commitments to use recycled plastics, as is evidenced in the Plastics Solutions for America 2020 report.
“We must continue to focus on modernizing our recycling systems, investing and scaling advanced technologies to capture and reuse more plastic, and closing the loop to keep plastics where they belong — as the building blocks for tomorrow’s plastic and other products,” said Baca. “We are asking manufacturers and businesses to join us and support achieving these circularity goals. And we are calling on Congress to enact meaningful policies that will support EPA’s effort and enable us to drive toward a better future.”