“The current state of US infrastructure, coupled with the lack of incentives to use recycled content in plastic packaging, has put a huge strain on the value chain,” she said. “The roadmap is designed to help US industry leaders implement the critical, system-wide change needed to achieve a circular plastics economy by 2025. The timeframe is short and the workload is immense, but if we choose not to do anything, visions of a circular economy in the US will give way to the status quo. “
Other companies and groups in the pact are Unilever, Clorox, Mars, Mondelez and Aldi.
Plastic companies and trading groups include Amcor, Charter Next Generation, Eastman Chemical, Pretium, PreZero, PureCycle, the Association of Plastic Recyclers, and the National Association for PET Container Resources.
The report outlines specific targets for recycling by 2025 by type of material.
For example, the recycling rate for bottles made of PET, polypropylene and high-density polyethylene should have a recycling rate of at least 70 percent by 2025. PET and HDPE bottles are currently around 30 percent.
It also states that PE film should have a recycling rate of 30 percent, compared to EPA estimates now of 10 percent, and that all roadside recycling programs should be able to process film and flexible packaging.
Currently, few roadside systems can handle these flexible materials, and a recent industry report said it would cost $ 4 billion over five years to upgrade apartment collection programs.
The pact also said that both PET non-bottle rigid packaging and PP non-bottle rigid packaging should achieve at least 50 percent recycling and HDPE non-bottle rigid packaging should have a recycling rate of at least 30 percent.
Right now the prices for these materials are well below these numbers. According to the EPA, for example, PP containers had a recycling rate of 8 percent in 2018.
In order to create demand in the system, there must be “robust domestic end markets” for all packaging materials it targets.
By the end of 2022, the report said that all of its members would make public commitments on recycled content for the U.S. market and that the pact would take a clear position in support of the recycled content mandates.
It said it will develop policies to support “post-consumer recycled content orders and procurement policies in line with strong programs and policies like EPR and” [deposit return systems] to support the collection and sorting of recyclable plastic packaging. “
The group also said it is pushing plans for a list of problematic plastic packaging that should be phased out by the end of this year.
The pact wants to build on this list by the end of 2022 in order to develop a “public engagement campaign around plastics, to recognize the value of plastics in a circular economy and that unnecessary and problematic plastics should be developed or abolished”.
Some critics have questioned how much a voluntary arrangement like the Pact can achieve, pointing to previous voluntary plastics recycling efforts that came with high profile announcements but failed.
Proponents, however, see the roadmap as an important part of building a national strategy.
“To properly address the plastic waste crisis in the United States, we need to unite the critical stakeholders – industry leaders, waste management systems and policy makers – in one cohesive action plan,” said Erin Simon, head of plastic waste and business at the World Wildlife Fund. “The roadmap will be key to defining a national strategy that will achieve our goals and measure our progress in a consistent and transparent manner.”
The US pact is one of a series of global pacts being developed under the umbrella of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.