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America’s Plastics Makers Committed to Modernizing Today’s Outdated Recycling System and Advancing New Technologies


WASHINGTON (April 1, 2020) – PBS’s Frontline last night aired an episode called “Plastic Wars.” ACC’s Keith Christman, managing director of plastics markets, responds:

Plastic waste is a very real problem, and America’s plastic makers are helping to drive change and modernize today’s plastics recycling systems. From working with customers to design reusable and more recyclable packaging, to innovating and improving traditional recycling operations, to expanding collection and investing in next-generation advanced recycling technologies that transform used packaging into completely new plastics – much of this work is underway today. We are acting now to help build a future without plastic waste.

Plastic plays a vital role in modern life. Too often it is not recycled or recovered, and far too much winds up in our rivers and oceans. Designing waste out of our systems requires a sustained commitment and ongoing collaboration with government, major brands, nonprofits, and other stakeholders. More than ever, consumers are driving demand for more sustainable products, and brands are committed to using more recycled content. Right now, plastics makers are developing the products and processes to deliver recycled materials needed for viable, long-term markets.

Unfortunately, Frontline failed to acknowledge this changing economic and technology landscape, or mention the industry’s rapidly growing and tangible investments in traditional and advanced plastics recycling technologies and their growing impact.

In the last three years, the private sector has invested $4.6 billion in improving recycling in the United States, primarily in advanced plastics recycling technologies that are already beginning to revolutionize the way we recycle and reuse the vast majority of plastic packaging in use today. Plastic makers are proud to be on the forefront of reshaping our own business models and are committed to help make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030 and reusing, recycling, or recovering all plastic packing by 2040.

Plastic makers also are committed to helping end plastic waste in the environment – because plastic does not belong in our oceans or waterways. That’s why many of our members helped found the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which has committed to invest $1.5 billion over five years, primarily in many of the rapidly developing countries highlighted on Frontline. Through the Alliance and other initiatives, new systems and investments are underway that will have positive, substantive, long-term benefits for communities and our planet.


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