The Recycling Partnership’s Roadmap to a U.S. Circular Economy

The ultimate goal of sustainability is a circular economy—a particularly important goal for the packaging industry. Reducing waste is a great goal, but eliminating it is the ultimate plan of the Recycling Partnership, a U.S. nonprofit working hard to transform how Americans recycle. To that end, the Recycling Partnership recently announced its new initiative: a brand-new report—a circular economy roadmap—titled “The Bridge to Circularity: Putting the ‘New Plastics Economy’ into Practice in the U.S.” takes cues from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment which brings businesses, governments, and other organizations together to tackle waste at its core.

The Recycling Partnership’s “The Bridge to Circularity” recognizes that the path to a circular economy in packaging is complex. A circular economy entails:

  • Designing packaging to eliminate waste
  • Employ materials that can be kept in use
  • Regrow and replace natural material sources

But this can only happen with advanced planning and specific, concrete steps to improving the existing systems. By providing these steps, the Recycling Partnership motivates change beyond wishful thinking, inspiring aggressive action aimed at meeting their goal by 2025. The target: 3 existing challenges in U.S. recycling practices.

  • Packaging innovation outpaces recycling. The majority of plastic packaging is currently not collected or just isn’t recyclable. The only way to accomplish 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable plastic packaging in the next half-decade is with manufacturers making sustainable choices in product packaging. The recycling infrastructure must also improve so that more recyclable-but-usually-discarded materials are eligible for municipal collection.
  • Global demand exceeds U.S. supply. The United States annually provides post-consumer plastics well below the global commitment for generating recycled materials. U.S. businesses, government agencies, and NGOs must invest the capital needed to recapture post-consumer waste and feed it into global recycling.
  • Some recycling challenges are simply hard to manage or correct. Innovation must work hand-in-hand with policy changes in order to be successful. Neither the technology nor the desire alone can meet this audacious goal by 2025.

“The Bridge to Circularity” calls for change on a massive scale—in the amount of $500 million. But it stands out in its specificity. By providing actionable recommendations and a clear roadmap to achieve the goal, the organization is poised to transform U.S.—and therefore global—waste and pollution while uniting private and government entities in sustainability.

Where do you see your company when you consider “The Bridge to Circularity”? Do you know about your options in sustainable packaging and materials? Give us a call or contact us to discuss your options and develop a strategy ideal for your product and customers.

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