The companies that make most of the plastics in the United States have called on Congress to create a new national recycled plastics standard: Require all plastic packaging to include at least 30% recycled plastics. In nine short years.
We call it “30 by ’30.”
Right now, there’s nowhere near that much recycled plastics available. Today about 6 billion pounds of plastics are recycled annually. And only some of that is reused in new packaging. To reach 30 by ‘30, it’s projected we’ll need to produce 13 billion pounds of recycled plastics for use in packaging. It’s possible but it’s not going to be easy.
Why are we asking Congress to do this? Collecting and recycling more plastics – a lot more plastics – is important for two primary reasons:
- It will help keep plastics out of the environment and lead to a “circular economy” for plastics, the more sustainable business approach we’re building for the future.
- It will be good for business over the long term.
A circular economy rearranges the way our society makes and uses things. In today’s “linear economy,” manufacturers typically take raw materials and make products that are used… and then discarded in landfills, incinerators, or far too often our environment, particularly our ocean. We’ve all seen the results.
Instead, a circular economy keeps those materials in use for as long as possible and then reuses them to make new products. This reduces the need to extract raw materials, drives down greenhouse gas emissions, and significantly reduces our environmental footprint.
Importantly, it also helps prevent these materials from littering our environment, rivers, and ocean.
A circular economy is what Americans want. A strong majority (83%) of Americans support the plastics industry taking “big, bold steps to address plastic waste,” according to a recent survey. As part of that, Americans want us to make much more of our materials out of recycled plastics.
To succeed, we’ll need help from Congress to smooth the path toward a circular economy. In July, we announced 5 Actions for Sustainable Change, five simple steps Congress can take to accelerate a circular economy for plastics through a comprehensive, national strategy.
Action #1: 30 by ’30. Require use of recycled content in plastic packaging. Not a little bit. A lot. Not decades from now. By decade’s end.
Our 30 by ’30 Action is just the beginning. The other four Actions include a call for additional investment in our nation’s recycling infrastructure. But not with taxpayer dollars. From private investment. Look for more details in this series of articles.
We’re reaching out to work with Congress. We know there’s broad, bipartisan support – across parties, ideologies, and demographics – to accelerate a circular economy. The desire is there. The solutions are there. It’s time to make it happen.