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plastic waste

What Role Will Plastics Play in the Circular Economy?

plastic wasteAs a growing number of industry players and governments in the US and Europe make the business and environmental case for adopting circular economy models, plastics — and their role in the circular economy — are taking center stage.

Some 70 percent of plastic packaging, for example, can be profitably reused or recycled, up from today’s global recycling rate of 14 percent, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. To reach this 70 percent mark, 40 organizations across the plastics value chain — including Unilever, Amcor, Coca-Cola, Danone, Mars, Novamont and Veolia  — last month endorsed a circular economy plan developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum.

Several leading companies including Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Coca-Cola European Partners, are already employing circular economy approaches to plastics used in their products and packaging, saving money and reducing waste and emissions through their efforts.

Yesterday, in a move that aims to further boost demand for recycled plastics, the Plastics Industry Association’s (PLASTICS’) Recycling Committee released its Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Guide.

The guide provides an introduction to the various EPP policies that plastics businesses can use to better position products, containing recycled content and other environmentally friendly qualities, to institutional purchasers.

Institutional purchasing, in the public and private sectors, accounts for $10 trillion annually in the US.

The EPP Guide also outlines how companies can work with state and federal agencies to purchase products that are better for the environment. Numerous federal agencies and 32 states give preferential purchasing status to products with environmental benefits, such as recycled content.

“State and federal EPP policies have a lot of unrealized potential in terms of better positioning use of recycled content,” said Kim Holmes, vice president of sustainability at PLASTICS. “Our hope is that this guide will uncover new opportunities to use recycled content and offer recyclers a new sales strategy for positioning their materials with customers.”

 

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