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Plastics Industry Wants World to Know Recycling Is Real

The Plastics Industry Association is bankrolling a $1 million advocacy campaign to challenge “false narratives.”

Geoff Giordano

September 14, 2023

recycling stories
Image courtesy of PLASTICS

Despite rumblings to the contrary, recycling of plastics waste is indeed real, asserts a new $1 million advocacy campaign from the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS).

The “Recycling is Real” campaign aims squarely at putting an end to “false narratives claiming that recycling doesn’t happen, or is a myth,” according to Rational 360, the agency representing PLASTICS in the campaign.

Recycling efforts around the country will be spotlighted by the campaign, which also will provide actionable information to policymakers so they understand the recycling process and can make well-informed decisions about recycling resources for their constituents.

Yet, even as brand owners, recyclers, and municipalities increasingly trumpet pioneering efforts to repurpose plastic waste, the news can’t cut through the noise generated by a chorus of dissenters amplified by the media.

For instance, Pennsylvania waste collection firm J.P. Mascaro & Sons recently partnered with key plastics industry players on a pilot study proving the feasibility of collecting, separating, and recycling flexible plastic packaging from curbside material streams.

Yet, promising projects like that are buried under dozens of headlines churned out from legacy media outlets and environmental activists focusing not on promising recycling efforts that will require time to develop, but the currently small percentage of plastic being recycled — something the plastics industry is keenly aware of and continues to openly cite as a reason to find solutions.

Here's but a small sampling. See if you can find a pattern in the headlines:

“Anti-recycling organizations and their allies have created a coordinated campaign against plastic recycling in an effort to advance their anti-plastics agenda — and it is eroding faith in our nation’s ability to recycle,” according to a statement from PLASTICS.

Enter the organization’s “Recycling is Real” campaign to attempt to bring some balance to the narrative.

“It’s undeniable that recycling is not only real, but feasible and economical, from shredding the old material to extruding the new material and making the equipment that makes it possible to design safe new ways to put more recycled content into products,” the campaign’s website asserts. The website notes that America recycles more than six billion pounds of plastic every year, and that since 2017 the plastics industry has spent or committed to spend $8 billion in recycling capabilities and technology. A series of videos on the Recycling is Real site spotlights recycling projects and successes.

In truth, “Plastic recycling is very real, and it happens every single day across America,” said PLASTICS’ President and CEO Matt Seaholm. “The “Recycling is Real” campaign allows both the public and lawmakers to see for themselves the extraordinary role recycling plays in the circular economy, making it undeniable that recycling is not only effective but is a feasible and economical way to achieve our shared sustainability goals.”

Visit the campaign website to check out the videos and sign up for updates.

About the Author(s)

Geoff Giordano

Geoff Giordano is a tech journalist with more than 30 years’ experience in all facets of publishing. He has reported extensively on the gamut of plastics manufacturing technologies and issues, including 3D printing materials and methods; injection, blow, micro and rotomolding; additives, colorants and nanomodifiers; blown and cast films; packaging; thermoforming; tooling; ancillary equipment; and the circular economy. Contact him at [email protected].

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