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Mass Balance Certification Principles Will Support Plastic Recycling Growth and Accelerate Advanced Recycling Development

Matthew Kastner

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 25, 2020) – The American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division today announced a set of principles for mass balance certification standards that will trace and help increase plastics recycling and support markets for the outputs from advanced plastics recycling. These standards will make it easier for U.S. brands and other stakeholders to use more recycled content in their products and packaging and communicate this to their customers. This is essential to creating additional demand for recycled plastics. Furthermore, resin manufacturers recognize that standards for traceability will maximize confidence in advanced plastics recycling and recovery technologies and make them even more attractive to the plastics value chain.

“Having consistent, third-party standards and a transparent certification process will ultimately help increase plastic recycling and scale adoption of advanced recycling technologies,” said Craig Cookson, senior director, recycling and recovery, of ACC’s Plastics Division. “Plastics converters, brand owners and retailers will be able to use outputs from advanced plastic recycling technologies with added confidence by relying on these standards for supporting circular economy marketing claims,” he added. “The flow of molecules through the advanced recycling process and back into the production of plastics, chemicals and fuels should be tracked from start to finish in order to certify recycled content in end products.”

A mass balance approach measures the amount of used plastic that enters advanced recycling processes and makes certain that claims of recycled content in the resultant product do not exceed that amount. Mass balance has previously been successful in developing high levels of transparency and consumer trust for other materials such as paper and renewable energy. 

These principles also have received the support of ACC’s Chemical Recycling Alliance (CRA), which represents the leading companies providing technologies in advanced plastics recycling. “Our members are delivering diverse technology solutions and support a chain of custody tracking system through to the consumer, which will add a level of auditable assurance for our customers,” said Priyanka Bakaya, CEO of Renewlogy and chair of the CRA. “Verifiable standards are important to us and the whole value chain, not just in the U.S. but around the world.” 

A few certifying organizations, such as the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) currently exist, and a number of others have announced their intent to develop standards and certification processes for advanced plastics recycling and recovery. The mass balance approach is likewise supported by organizations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation CE100, which recently published a white paper on the subject.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.

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