Association of Plastic Recyclers | August 12, 2022
The Association of Plastic Recyclers The Voice of Plastic Recycling®, issued a report that provides a data-driven update on the progress of plastic recycling in the United States showing that it is a viable, accessible and scalable solution for reducing plastic waste.
The report compiles research and analysis from across the $236 billion recycling industry which includes over 9,000 community recycling programs across the country and more than 100 post-consumer recyclers. The report finds that plastic recycling alone is responsible for over 200,000 U.S. jobs.
“APR’s state-of-the-industry report tells the true story of plastic recycling in the United States. This is an industry that processed almost five billion pounds of post-consumer plastic material in 2020 despite a pandemic and related lockdown, and we have every expectation that number will continue to grow.”
Steve Alexander, President and CEO of the Association of Plastic Recyclers
The report presents an important clarification on data provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the discussion on US recycling rates. The report explains that 80% of rigid plastic packaging is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and polypropylene (PP). These are the types of plastic packaging (such as soda bottles, laundry detergent jugs, and yogurt tubs) that are most used by businesses and available to consumers to put in their blue bins. The report found that 21% of these types of plastic, the type that U.S. consumers touch every day, are recycled based on EPA data.
The report also includes the latest data for PET and HDPE bottles alone - a current recycling rate of 28%. With more supply of recyclable plastic material from consumers, U.S. plastic recyclers could boost PET and HDPE bottle recycling rate – raising the rate to over 40% – with minimal additional investment and using existing processing infrastructure in the U.S.
“Increasing the recycling rate is important because demand for recycled material, a key driver of the recycling chain, is stronger than ever, spurred by a variety of factors including brand sustainability commitments and legislative activity,” added Alexander.
The report concludes that meeting that high demand and continuing to sustain and grow recycling will require three steps: (1) companies to manufacture plastic products and packaging that are compatible with recycling, (2) consumers to put recyclable material in the bin and (3) a robust recycling infrastructure to collect, sort and process that material.
The report provides policy recommendations including: ensure that all new products and packaging are made to be compatible with recycling; increase and strengthen community recycling programs and create harmonization among the types of plastic that are collected in those programs; and encourage the consideration of the true cost of disposal and the low costs to landfill.
“This report shows that, while there is still work to be done, plastic recycling can succeed,” Alexander added. “Consumers want recycling to work, and recyclers are ready to process more material. Our industry is innovative and resilient. It is time to recommit to plastic recycling for our communities, for our environment, and for our future.”
As the international trade association representing the plastics recycling industry, APR membership includes independent recycling companies of all sizes, processing numerous resins, as well as consumer product companies, equipment manufacturers, testing laboratories, organizations, and others committed to the success of plastics recycling. APR advocates the recycling of all plastics. Visit www.PlasticsRecyling.org for more information.
Milliken | August 08, 2022
The Recycling Partnership announced today that it has launched The Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impactcto drive measurable improvement in residential recycling behavior and mobilize household participation in the circular economy. Human behavior is at the heart of any successful recycling program. The Recycling Partnership is taking the lead in helping people to overcome barriers to participation, pairing behavioral science with programs aimed at growing access.
"Engaging the public means first ensuring that all people have equitable access to recycling services. As we reached over 100 million American households, we saw first-hand that there is a critical missing piece. We have a responsibility to make it easy, even enjoyable, for all Americans to fully participate. We will do just that, working in collaboration with our expert launch advisors to create and rapidly share innovative, evidence-based solutions with practitioners and stakeholders working across the circular economy on recycling, reuse, and reduction.”
Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership
Each year, 15 million tons of household recyclables are lost to landfills because Americans are confused and lack confidence when it comes to recycling. The loss of 15 million tons of recyclable material is equivalent to 63 million metric tons of carbon dioxide; capturing this material would yield more than 17,500 jobs and $834 million in landfill savings.
“Solving this challenge requires an evidence-based approach,” said Louise Bruce, Managing Director for the Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impact. “By rigorously evaluating and disseminating our findings, we are making the Center the go-to hub for innovative, people- focused solutions that substantially improve recycling at every step of the consumer journey. With this, we hope to empower recycling leaders to optimize their programs, and advance circularity of the economy.”
With founding support from the Walmart Foundation and Milliken & Company Charitable Foundation, The Recycling Partnership will leverage its network of community partnerships, comprehensive national database, deep expertise in recycling education, and established track record of improving underperforming recycling programs to propel positive change in recycling behavior. This change will be measured through both an increased capture of recyclable material and growth in household recycling participation.
“People are at the heart of our sustainability strategy, so supporting the Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impact was the right fit,” said Milliken & Company President and CEO and Milliken & Company Charitable Foundation Board Chair, Halsey Cook. “The Center’s work to build consumer confidence and equitably overcome barriers to residential recycling will become a critical element of our strategy to solve the plastics end-of-life challenge.”
“The Center is filling a gap in the flywheel of the circular economy, which includes circular design, infrastructure and behavior change,” said Julie Gehrki, Vice President & COO of The Walmart Foundation. “The Walmart Foundation is supporting the Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impact to identify key trends, attitudes, motivations, and barriers to circularity nationally, regionally, and locally. These insights will inform multiple tools to accelerate trust in and adoption of recycling, including a digital playbook that will be designed purposefully to improve community confidence in recycling and embed equity in circular initiatives.”
While Americans overwhelmingly support recycling with 80% saying it has a positive impact, when it comes to actually putting recyclables in the bin, one obstacle is lack of confidence. Through its inaugural Recycling Confidence Index, The Center uses behavioral science to gauge consumer confidence in recycling programs and identify the drivers of these beliefs. Half of those surveyed believe that the items they recycle are made into new things, suggesting that there is room to boost recycling confidence, but only 7% said they believed recycled items rarely or never become something new. Significantly, the survey found that the highest levels of confidence exist among those who receive the full spectrum of recycling communications and support, including convenient bins, recycling knowledge and information, and motivational messages. Where there is strong communication, information and support, consumers are most likely to trust that recycling works and that their personal behaviors have a genuine impact. Click here to read more about the Recycling Confidence Index.
The Center will initially focus on three areas: (i) deepening understanding of consumer barriers and sentiments toward recycling, (ii) scientifically testing different types of solutions to determine the most effective and scalable tactics that improve recycling behavior with different populations in the US., and (iii) creating a playbook and accompanying online tool to make best practices and key insights available to national, state, and local recycling leaders.
To support its initial phase The Center is working with six Launch Advisors; experts and practitioners in the fields of environmental research, behavioral science, community recycling program management and sustainability marketing to ensure that its research practices meet the highest scientific standards, while rooted in the everyday challenges of local communities. The Launch Advisors are
Bridget Anderson, Deputy Commissioner of Recycling and Sustainability, NYC Department of Sanitation
Jason Hale, Director of Operations, Ocean Plastics Asia, Systemiq
Steve Raabe, Founder and President, OpinionWorks
Suzanne Shelton, Founder, President, & CEO, Shelton Group
Joseph Sherlock, Applied Behavioral Researcher, the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University
Cynthia Shih, Senior Advisor, Delterra
“The vast majority of Americans want to do the right thing and keep their waste out of landfills. Why, then, are diversion rates so low in some areas? We have real work to do to change this, and I’m proud to be part of the effort to solve this problem, before it’s too late,” said Bridget Anderson, Deputy Commissioner of Recycling and Sustainability, NYC Department of Sanitation.
About The Recycling Partnership
At The Recycling Partnership, we are solving for circularity. We mobilize people, data, and solutions across the value chain to unlock the environmental and economic benefits of recycling and a circular economy. We work on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs; we partner with companies to achieve packaging circularity, increase access to recycled materials, and meet sustainability commitments; and we work with government to develop policy solutions to address the systemic needs of our residential recycling system and advance a circular economy. We foster public-private partnerships and drive positive change at every step of the recycling and circularity process.
Milliken & Company is a global manufacturing leader whose focus on materials science delivers tomorrow’s breakthroughs today. From industry-leading molecules to sustainable innovations, Milliken creates products that enhance people’s lives and deliver solutions for its customers and communities. Drawing on thousands of patents and a portfolio with applications across the textile, flooring, chemical and healthcare businesses, the company harnesses a shared sense of integrity and excellence to positively impact the world for generations. Discover more about Milliken’s curious minds and inspired solutions at milliken.
Tramontina | August 01, 2022
Shortly after announcing its partnership with Voice of the Oceans to combat plastic pollution in our seas, leading housewares manufacturer Tramontina USA today revealed its next actionable sustainability initiative: a transition from all non-recycled single-use poly bags used in packaging to bags with a minimum of 90% recycled content, reducing the packaging CO2 emissions by nearly 60%. A result of Tramontina's ongoing partnership with environmental consulting firm Searious Business, the impact of this change will be recognized across nearly 10 million poly bag units used annually and be completed for all items with production dates beginning February 2023.
This initiative is part of a larger goal to incorporate more sustainable materials across all packaging by 2025 and is just one piece of a packaging components improvement strategy undertaken by Tramontina in conjunction with Searious Business. The work is looking at ways to not only reduce harmful materials, but identify new materials and new processes that will help lead the brand and the industry forward.
"Adding to our long history of eco-friendly practices, we have been actively reviewing all elements of our packaging to decrease use of plastics where we can and increase our commitment to sustainability across all avenues of our business. We are excited for this impactful first initiative resulting from our work with Searious Business and look forward to continuing to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint together in the future."
Mars Mashburn, Vice President of Product Development and Marketing of Tramontina USA
"It is our mission to help conscious companies like Tramontina maximize their sustainability efforts and stimulate wide-scale organizational change," said Willemijn Peeters, Searious Business. "It has been incredible to work with a company that has been implementing sustainable practices for years, and this important step is just the beginning of accelerating Tramontina's efforts."
Tramontina's efforts at their facilities were complemented by their announcement of their US sponsorship of Voice of the Oceans, a global expedition led by the Schurmann Family to call attention to the plastics pollution poisoning our waters and look for innovative solutions and actions to reverse this impact. The expedition began in August 2021 and will conclude in New Zealand in 2023. By combining this commitment with a focus on their own business practices, Tramontina is zeroed-in on making lasting change for today and tomorrow.
"We're excited to be a partner with Voice of the Ocean and to leverage its expertise in identifying ways to reduce plastic waste and apply those learnings across our supply chain," said Marcelo Borges, CEO of Tramontina USA. "In addition to our long history of eco-friendly practices, Tramontina continues to challenge ourselves to not only innovate, but also lead our business and industry to a more sustainable future. Simultaneously, we also have a vision to develop new projects based on circular economy practices."
A Brazilian-based company established in 1911, Tramontina makes constant investments in clean technologies. Aluminum waste generated in-house is remelted in the company's own furnaces and is transformed into new products. Rainwater is harvested and transformed into drinking water. Sunlight is transformed into clean energy.
In 2021 alone, 92% of the electricity acquired by the Group's companies were from renewable sources and 82% of waste generated was recycled.
Founded in 1911 in Brazil, Tramontina is an international brand with more than 110 years of high-end housewares manufacturing experience. Tramontina products, delivering premium quality, innovation, and functionality, are available in over 120 countries. Tramontina is dedicated to being a leading manufacturer of cookware, cutlery, kitchen accessories, and housewares items. One of the company's core values is environmental responsibility and sustainable development.
About Searious Business
Searious Business is a social enterprise committed to realising systemic change regarding plastic waste. Creating innovative, economically advantageous front-end solutions, Searious Business collaborates with companies and organisations to encourage the circular economy for plastics and strategically reduce impact on ocean ecosystems.
About Voice of the Oceans
Voice of the Oceans' purpose is to document the extent of the plastic pollution problem and identify solutions that protect the oceans and improve our planet. Our efforts are led by the Schurmann family with support from the U.N. Environment Programme, the Plastic Soup Foundation and numerous corporate sponsors. Through the data we collect and share, we have opened a global dialogue about ocean pollution that includes not only improving our beaches, but also the animals that are harmed by our plastic waste and carry this invisible waste into the food chain. Micro- and nano-plastics found in the oceans also prevent the oceans from playing their role in sustaining the environment, such as producing oxygen and maintaining climate balance.