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Innovation

In Partnership with Government, Industry Leads the Way in New Recycling Technologies

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A recent event hosted by the Plastics Industry Association with Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) shows how bipartisanship and cooperation with industry is paving the way for new recycling solutions, and how the Stevens-sponsored  Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Act outlines how the country can get this done.

The act establishes a plastic waste reduction and recycling research and development program, creates a strategic plan to reduce plastic waste, and develops standards for plastic recycling technologies. This bill goes hand-in-hand with Stevens’ Congressional Plastics Solutions Task Force, a group that brings together lawmakers from both parties as well as industry officials to develop recycling solutions.

While discussing successful plastics recycling strategies at the event, Stevens stressed the need for education, explaining that the industry could do more to make the public aware that plastic products are durable and usually reusable, rather than “single use.” She also explained how important it is for Congress to work alongside industry to ensure plastics are readily available while also achieving critical recycling goals.

Another recent virtual event hosted by Axios and sponsored by the American Chemistry Council provided viewers with additional insight into recycling in the United States, including a close look at new technologies and initiatives powered by industry that will shape how people think about plastics.

Keefe Harrison, founder and CEO of The Recycling Partnership, discussed ongoing challenges to recycling. According to Harrison, one of the key reasons why America has such difficulty recycling on a national scale is because there is no national scale. In fact, more than 9,000 different recycling programs operate across the country, each with their own standards, logistics, and other specific details that make universal adoption very challenging. Unifying these programs under one umbrella would dramatically improve recycling efficiency, in step with Stevens’ bill.

Chris Jahn, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, focused on the industry’s “Roadmap to Reuse,” a plan to recycle or reuse all plastic packaging in the United States by 2040. While this is no easy feat, companies have already announced 64 projects to aid in the effort, all of which will divert 9 billion pounds of waste from landfills and into recycling facilities across the country. An example of this is Shell Chemical’s plan to use 1 million metric tons of recycled plastic as feedstock for new product development in the next five years. This is merely one of the many initiatives underway around the country to power America’s recycling industry into the future.

 

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