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ACC: Plastic Waste Study in “Science Advances” Provides Incomplete Picture

America’s Plastic Makers Are Working to Expand Responsible Solutions

Matthew Kastner

WASHINGTON (October 30, 2020) – A new study, “The United States’ contribution of plastic waste to land and ocean,” published today in the journal Science Advances examines various treatment categories of plastic waste domestically and around the world. The American Chemistry Council responded with the following statement, which may be attributed to Joshua Baca, ACC’s vice president of plastics:

“Plastic waste in our environment is not acceptable, and America’s plastic makers are working to quickly advance responsible solutions to address this issue. We agree with the study’s authors that any litter or mismanaged waste in the environment is too much. Unfortunately, the study does not mention that U.S. exports of plastic waste have declined dramatically – nearly 70% – since their peak in 2016. The fact is, U.S. exports of mixed plastic waste will be forbidden to many countries under the Basel Convention as of January 1, 2021.

“Plastic makers take their role seriously in developing solutions to address plastic waste in the environment and are working collaboratively with government, industry, and nonprofit partners on innovative ways to more efficiently use and reuse our plastic resources and advance a circular economy. For example:

  • We set goals for 100% of U.S. plastic packaging to be recyclable or recoverable by 2030 and to be re-used, recycled or recovered by 2040.
  • Plastic makers introduced a Roadmap to Reuse, providing a path to help facilitate more circular business models that will help reduce waste and minimize landfilling, while retaining plastics’ benefits to society.
  • We've announced a set of guiding policy principles that will significantly increase America’s capacity to advance responsible solutions to end plastic waste, such as through the adoption of mandatory recycled content standards for new products and packaging.
  • And together, the private sector has announced investments of $5.3 billion since 2017 to significantly modernize recycling technology and systems across the U.S.”
American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $486 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for ten percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

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