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  • Press Release

Reports: Secondary Sortation Economically Attractive and Necessary to Scale Up Recycling

On America Recycles Day, ACC Highlights the Importance of Secondary Sortation to Recycle Greater Amounts and More Types of Plastics

Matthew Kastner

WASHINGTON, DC (November 15, 2022) — The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is excited to announce important developments that demonstrate progress toward meeting America’s plastic makers’ goal to reuse, recycle or recover 100% of U.S. plastic packaging by 2040:

  1. McKinsey & Company has published, “Beyond the bottle: Solutions for recycling challenging plastics,” which found demand for recycled plastic is strong, and wider deployment of feedstock preparation facilities (i.e., secondary sortation facilities) can help recycle more types of plastics beyond bottles, aggregate plastics to produce needed volumes, and improve the quality of the feedstock available for recycling. When scaled, these facilities can drive down the cost of plastics processing, making them economically attractive to many investors.
  2. America’s plastic makers are already making investments in the types of facilities that McKinsey highlights as critical for improving recycling rates and accelerating a more circular economy for plastics. This includes last month’s $100 million investment announced by ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell, and Cyclyx in Houston.
  3. And a new report (fact sheet) that examined the potential for using advanced sortation in the Northeast found these facilities could recapture 50% of the plastic and other material that otherwise would have gone to landfill, so it could be recycled.

“When it comes to building a circular economy, America’s plastic makers aren’t just dipping their toes in, we’re diving in headfirst,” said Joshua Baca, vice president of plastics at ACC. “We’re seeing millions, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars, being regularly announced to expand, advance and accelerate America’s plastics recycling infrastructure.”

As the McKinsey article notes, wider access to feedstock preparation facilities, would enable a huge step forward for plastics recycling – and the economics of these facilities are now increasingly attractive to many investors.   

Plastic makers will continue to collaborate with businesses and policymakers to usher in a new era of reuse and recycling and accelerate the transition from a linear to a circular economy.

American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division

The American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division represents America’s Plastic MakersSM and the half million+ scientists, engineers, technicians, and other innovators who make plastics for many essential and lifesaving products that are vital to modern life. America’s Plastic Makers continue to embrace change. We’re linking innovation with sustainability, deploying next generation technologies to make plastics lighter, stronger, more efficient and more recyclable, so we can meet our goal for 100% of U.S. plastic packaging to be reused, recycled, or recovered by 2040. We’re making sustainable change to help build a cleaner, safer, more sustainable future for generations to come. 

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.