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January 23, 2019 - Plastics Recycling Update

APR in the News

Recycling leaders respond to plastic industry’s $1B pledge

Resin and packaging giants last week committed $1 billion over the next five years to “end plastic waste.” While recycling and sustainability stakeholders say they are encouraged by the effort, they also want to ensure materials recovery remains part of the solution.

“I just want to raise our hand and say, ‘Don’t forget us over here,'” said Steve Alexander, president and CEO of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR). “We’re the solution to your problem at the end of the day. If you can capture it, we can recycle it.”

 

“I just want to raise our hand and say, ‘Don’t forget us over here,'” said Steve Alexander, president and CEO of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR). “We’re the solution to your problem at the end of the day. If you can capture it, we can recycle it.”

Keeping North America in focus


The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a new group that was announced Jan. 16, plans to focus its resources on developing waste collection infrastructure, innovating in recycling and product design, educating consumers about waste, and cleaning up plastic in the environment. It hopes to boost the dollar amount behind the project to $1.5 billion in the coming years by bringing more entities on board.

The group’s founding members include Berry Global, Chevron, Dow, ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell, Procter & Gamble, Shell, Suez, Total, Veolia and others.

In its initial announcement, the Alliance noted some of its early work will target Southeast Asia because a large portion of marine debris enters waterways in that region. But recycling stakeholders noted that materials recovery focus – and funding – is needed across the globe.

Nina Goodrich, executive director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), agreed that marine debris is a key component of addressing plastic waste, because ocean plastics have such a major global impact.

“That said, I also think we need to address collection and recycling of plastics films and pouches in the U.S.,” she added. “I am very afraid that we may go backwards in recycling, not forward, in the U.S. This would hurt investment in new innovative technologies and future competitiveness.”

Alexander of APR added there are significant infrastructure requirements in Southeast Asia and other regions. But he added, “Let’s not make the assumption that there aren’t infrastructure needs in North America. I’m heartened by the fact that the announcement indicates they’ll be working with large urban areas on solid waste infrastructure, I think that’s particularly important.”

It’s also true that a strengthened plastics processing and remanufacturing system in North America can help reduce the amount of material that could become pollution elsewhere. For instance, plastic exports from the U.S. to Southeast Asian nations skyrocketed in the first part of 2018, largely driven by the loss of China as a downstream destination for scrap materials.

Read the rest of the article here at Plastics Recycling Update.