WASHINGTON, DC (December 5, 2023) — With nearly 60% of North American plastic production that isn’t exported going into durable goods, finding end-of-life solutions that conserve these materials will be essential for achieving a circular economy, where used plastics are remade into new plastics instead of discarded.
To help inform policymakers, business leaders, and the public on ways to advance more sustainable and circular solutions at the end-of-life for durable goods, the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Plastics Division has released an industry roadmap. The roadmap details policies and business approaches that can accelerate development of the circular economy for durable goods in five key market sectors – automotive, building and construction, electronics, infrastructure, and medical.
The roadmap’s recommendations were informed by more than 100 participants convened from industry, government and academia.
“More than ever, consumers, brands, and industrial sectors are demanding more circular and sustainable business operations,” said Gina Oliver, senior director, durable markets at ACC. “This roadmap offers responsible guidance for creating the conditions to accelerate more sustainable and circular approaches that capture the value of durable goods at end-of-life. This can reduce costs for businesses and help conserve natural resources and our environment.”
While the full report details specific actions for each sector, several overarching themes include:
- The need to design durable products and the components within them to be disassembled, separated, and repaired or replaced, and for spent components to be recycled and remade into new products.
- The importance of advanced (chemical) recycling, which can increase the amount and scope of plastics often used in durable applications for recycling and that the mechanical recycling stream cannot easily recycle.
- The important role of standards, methods and certification programs to facilitate and help ensure durable products are made to be part of a more circular economy for plastics.
- The need for more pilot programs that bring together the value chain and inform the technical and economic viability of end-of-life separation, sortation and recycling of durable plastics, similar to ACC’s partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
ACC will continue to engage policymakers and the durable plastics value chain to advance the circularity of durable goods in line with the industry roadmap. We encourage these and other stakeholders to contact us to explore how we can work together toward more circular and sustainable plastics in durable products.