A Greenpeace USA report, Circular Claims Fall Again Again, released on Monday, October 24, concluded that most plastics produced in the United States cannot be recycled, prompting the plastics and recycling industry to say that recycling is not plastic. While recognizing that it is essential to the circularity of the world, we must increase recycling rates.
According to a Greenpeace report, no type of plastic packaging in the United States meets the definition of recyclable plastic packaging used by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy (EMF NPE) initiative. 400 million inhabitants. ”
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which are often considered recyclable, are the two most common plastics in the United States, usually in the form of bottles and jugs, according to Greenpeace. You are well below the EMF NPE threshold. They achieve only 20.9% and 10.3% reprocessing rates respectively. All other types of plastic have a reprocessing rate of less than 5%.
However, Greenpeace’s PET and HDPE bottle recycling rates differ significantly from those reported in the 2020 US Consumer Plastic Recycling Data Report. The report calculates a recycling rate of 27.1% for PET bottles and 28.8% for HDPE bottles. However, these numbers are still below the 30% EMF NPE threshold.
According to Greenpeace, PET and HDPE were previously considered recyclable, but the report found that acceptance into a recycling processing plant does not necessarily mean that they will be recycled, effectively Claims to be recyclable have been denied.
The nonprofit also claims that US households will generate an estimated 51 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, with only 2.4 million tons recycled.
According to the report, which updates the 2020 report, mechanical and chemical recycling of used plastics is extremely difficult to collect, virtually impossible to sort for recycling, and recyclable. It fails because the process is harmful to the environment, often made with toxic substances and contaminated. material and not economical to recycle.
According to Greenpeace, the first survey of acceptance of plastic products at U.S. housing material recovery facilities (MRFs) has been continuously updated since its creation in October 2019 and will be revalidated in August 2022. rice field. The survey was conducted and validated by technically qualified volunteers from The Last Beach Cleanup: Two registered professional chemical engineers and a recycling industry expert. The acceptance information was found in the public domain and published to promote transparency and establish a traceable account of the facts associated with plastic products’ “recyclable” claims and labels.
Lisa Lumsden, Senior Plastics Campaigner, Greenpeace USA, said: It’s time for companies to stop plastic faucets. Rather than continue greenwashing and misleading the American public, the industry was on the right side of history this November, drastically reducing production and increasing refilling and recycling to finally replace plastic. We should support an ambitious, era-ending global plastics treaty. ”
In addition to the adoption of the Global Plastics Convention, the Greenpeace report aims to reduce systemic problems related to plastic recycling, such as phasing out single-use plastics and working towards standardized, reusable packaging. We are urging companies to take some steps to:
Matt Seaholm, president and CEO of the Washington State Plastics Industry Association (Plastics), told a Greenpeace report that the plastics industry agreed that recycling of plastics should increase. “The difference between our industry and Greenpeace is not to create false claims, but to preserve materials that save lives and improve overall safety and quality of life through responsible use and recycling. understanding the actions required to
He also said, “Greenpeace activists cannot call themselves environmentalists while discouraging recycling as part of the solution to the world’s waste problem. There is no doubt that it can and must be done, but their claim that recycling cannot keep plastic materials in the circular economy is disingenuous and irresponsible. And the claims made in this document that recycling will never work can actually lead to unnecessary waste and public reaction that can cause greater environmental damage.
“The claim that ‘mechanical and chemical recycling of plastic waste is largely failing’ is a testament to the billions that the plastics and recycling industries have invested in new technologies and solutions to make their products more recyclable. It’s a desperate attempt to counter dollar investments,” continues Seeholm.
He added that the Greenpeace document does not mention the value that plastic packaging offers, such as reducing food waste or food waste emissions. In times of food scarcity and rising demand, plastic must be embraced for its ability to build a reliable and sustainable food supply chain across the global economy,” Seaholm wrote.
“Another example is the crucial role plastics play in the production, transport and management of healthcare, vaccines and immunizations, successfully contributing to global scientific progress.”
Keef Harrison, CEO of the Washington Recycling Partnership, said in response to the Greenpeace report, “I agree that recycling plastic is not a panacea for plastic waste. Together we must do the difficult but impactful work of building better systems it’s about how we focus on reducing, reusing and recycling as much as we can. Working with stakeholders, including the companies that produce plastics, to make recycling better. , can provide a transparent and accountable system that yields enormous economic and environmental benefits of recycling.
In an essay posted on The Recycling Partnership website in July of this year, Harrison wrote: Here’s the truth. It is currently being built and will no longer be created. If you think you can keep making and buying things you love without planning what will happen when you’re done with them, you’ll always be disappointed that recycling can’t keep up. ”
The Recycling Partnership proposes five steps to make a meaningful difference to recycling in the United States.
- Invest $17 billion in US recycling systems.
- Make street recycling accessible to everyone.
- Encourage the public to recycle various materials.
- Design recyclable products and packaging.When
- Pass public policies that hold value chains accountable for progress.
Joshua Baca, vice president for plastics at the American Chemistry Council in Washington, also issued a statement commenting on Greenpeace’s report. We are accelerating the shift towards making plastic more circular with greater sorting, advanced recycling and new partnerships that allow used plastic to be recycled again and again. Just last week, he invested $100 million in sorting more plastic for recycling, and another company tripled its volume of circular, renewable solutions to generate three million dollars a year. I promised to make it a ton.
“Greenpeace and its allies enable modern life, reduce carbon emissions compared to alternatives, keep food fresher and safer, enable renewable wind and solar energy, and power our homes and cars. Greenpeace’s extreme views are misleading, irrelevant and irrelevant.”
Steve Alexander, president of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) of Washington, said: Greenpeace uses all plastics made as a denominator.It is important to note that these statistics include plastic products such as durables, playground equipment and toilet seats. They last longer, as do non-durables that are not meant to be recycled, such as trash bags.
“Consumer packaging is mostly made of PET, HDPE and PP. [polyethylene], used in the context of packaging, and when combined they have a recycling rate of 21%. Reclaimer now has the ability to double that number he has. They need more supplies. Misleading reports like this can discourage consumers from recycling, which is destructive not only to our communities but also to the environment and economy,” he adds.
APR recently refuted misleading plastic recycling data from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a report entitled “Recommit, Reimagine, Rework Recycling.”
APR said its report provided important clarification on the data provided by the EPA for discussion of U.S. recycling rates, noting that 80% of rigid plastic packaging is made from PET, HDPE, or PP. said to explain. According to the APR report, 21% of these types of plastic are recycled, based on EPA data. However, according to the latest available EPA figures for 2018, the overall plastic recycling rate was only 9%. Similar to the Greenpeace report, the APR notes that EPA statistics include “containers, packaging, durable goods intended to last for years, and non-durable goods such as garbage bags that are not intended to be recycled.” included,” he said.
*This article was updated on October 26 to add April’s comments.