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WASHINGTON (November 17, 2020) – As part of its recognition of America Recycles Day, America’s plastic makers called on Congress to work with industry to prioritize recycling legislation in 2021.

“The plastics industry has set an ambitious goal of reusing, recycling or recovering 100% of plastic packaging in the U.S. by 2040,” said Joshua Baca, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council (ACC). “All of us have an interest in ensuring that plastics are collected and recycled into new and valuable products instead of ending up in our environment, and success will require many forms of collaboration. We look forward to working with Congress on ways to create more circular solutions for plastics. Last month we released a Roadmap to Reuse, a framework that outlines steps to grow recycling and recovery in the U.S., and guiding principles for eliminating plastic waste that can help shape legislation and other actions to help grow recycling and recovery of plastics.”

Multiple approaches are outlined in our guiding principles to help grow and modernize plastics recycling domestically, including:

  • National standards for recycling programs, education, and plastic bales, to harmonize best practices and greatly scale buying and selling of recycled plastics;
  • Multi-material packaging fees and higher disposal fees to support funding for basic collection, access to infrastructure and consumer education;
  • Recycled content legislation, which would help facilitate greater use of recycled plastics in new packaging and other goods;
  • The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, which would support scientists and agencies in studying innovative ways to repurpose used plastics and minimize plastic waste generation; and
  • Updated regulatory frameworks that classify advanced recycling technologies as manufacturing processes instead of waste disposal, which helps advanced recycling technology providers expand and create new economic opportunities to repurpose plastics into valuable new feedstocks for plastics and other products of chemistry.

Earlier in 2020, ACC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Energy to support innovations in plastics recycling and recovery technologies and strengthen domestic supply chains while improving economic and environmental outcomes. ACC also works closely with other partners including The Recycling Partnership, Closed Loop Partners and the Association of Plastic Recyclers on a variety of plastics recycling projects.

And we are seeing real signs of progress in investments in domestic plastic recycling. As of early September, there have been 64 announced projects in mechanical and advanced recycling in the U.S., valued at $5.3 billion. Together, these projects have the potential to divert more than 4.0 million metric tons (approximately 8.9 billion pounds) of waste from landfills each year. In addition, many ACC members have announced commitments to reuse plastics in creating new products. Select examples include:

  • Chevron Phillips Chemical Company recently announced the production of circular polyethylene using advanced recycling technology, and a target to produce 1 billion pounds of the product by 2030;
  • LyondellBasell set a new sustainability goal to produce 2 million metric tons of recycled and renewable-based polymers annually by 2030; and
  • Shell has committed that by 2025, it will use 1 million metric tons of post-use plastic per year as an alternative feedstock at their chemical plants around the world.  
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