The Association of Plastic Recyclers

APR at The New Plastics Economy: Recycling is the Key to Sustainability

I had the opportunity to attend the recent investor participant workshop of New Plastics Economy (NPE) initiative of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation last week in Brooklyn. More than 100 brand owners, activists, and other industry representatives were in attendance. The NPE is focused on creating a Global Plastic Protocol for plastic packaging as part of their Circular Economy effort. The workshop provided an update on seven projects currently underway and outlined 4 newly proposed activities.

Attending this workshop introduced several topics that I will touch on today, but expand upon in future posts.

At APR, we are obviously interested in any effort that talks about plastic protocols, particularly those of a global nature. We have been working with packaging groups in Europe to align the APR Design® Guide for Plastics Recyclability, along with our test methods and protocols, with those utilized in the EU.While we agree that efforts to harmonize guidelines is a concept to be pursued, there needs to be recognition that a one size fits all global approach to one particular protocol may not be realistic given the geographic variety of waste management systems across the globe.

We also need to recognize there is a great deal of work currently ongoing by APR and other organizations focused on improving package design for compatibility with recycling. Unfortunately, there have been an equal number of recent package innovations that create problems for recycling systems, but that is a topic for another day.

It was important for APR to present to the NPE gathering the many technical programs that we offer across the material spectrum. We wanted to make sure the NPE effort understood it did not have to start at the beginning to create an entirely new system for plastics recycling. In addition, given the attention to greenhouse gas (ghg) emission reduction that seems to be the topic of the day, it was important to point out that sustainability begins with recycling. At times, it seems that everyone wants to move on to the next big thing, but we feel it is critical not to deemphasize recycling in any way. Recycling is key to reducing ghg emissions, along with conserving natural resources, preventing pollution, and creating jobs. Let's not forget what started the sustainability movement.

The APR looks forward to working with NPE and their stakeholders to create new technologies that enhance and expand the recyclability of plastics on a global scale.And again, I also look forward to expanding upon several of the topics I've introduced today in future posts on the APR Plastics Recycling Blog.

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