This story has been updated.
According to a new report from Greenpeace USA, no plastic in the US really meets the definition of recyclable, prompting companies to switch to other materials.
“Recurring Claims Flat Again 2022 Update” It claimed that any type of plastic packaging in the United States meets the definition of recyclable used by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy Initiative. That’s a 30% recycling rate in an area of 400 million people.The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is an international organization that promotes a circular economy, and its recyclable definition benchmarks the brand’s 2025 Global Commitment Goals. was used to set the
Greenpeace conducted a survey of recycling facilities to determine the ‘reprocessing rate’ of different types of plastic. According to the report, reprocessing rates will determine “whether there is sufficient capacity to assure customers that plastic products are likely to actually be recycled into new products.” It was this ratio that Greenpeace used to compare different plastics to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s 30% threshold.
According to reports, the reprocessing rates for PET and HDPE are about 20% and 10%, respectively. Overall, he added, the US plastic recycling rate is 5%.
This release updates the 2020 Greenpeace report I found it the same. The updated report garnered major news coverage. Guardian When CBS.
Several plastics industry groups disputed the report’s claims. Steve Alexander, president of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), said he is still reviewing the full report, but that the 5% recycling rate figure looks out of place. (APR owns Resource Recycling, Inc.)
“Everything depends on what the denominator is,” he said. When considering recycling, APR uses the volume of consumer packaging produced. Alexander said Greenpeace appears to use all the plastics created as a denominator.
This includes durable goods, including toilet seats and other products, Alexander said. Consumer packaging is primarily made of PET, high-density polyethylene and polypropylene, he added, and the APR report found that the recycling rate for these three resins used in packaging is 21%.
“Recyclers now have the capacity to recycle 42% of it, but they can’t get supplies,” said Alexander.
According to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) report on PET recycling in 2020, the recycling rate of PET bottles in the United States is 26.6%. Another industry report states that the recycling rate of natural HDPE bottles is 27.9%, compared to color HDPE bottles in 2019.
Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership, said in a statement that he agreed that “plastic recycling is not a panacea for plastic waste.”
“But the reality is the world won’t stop making plastic tomorrow. So what do we do today?” Harrison added. “Together we must do the difficult but impactful work of building better systems focused on reducing, reusing and recycling as much as we can.”
That’s why the Recycling Partnership “is committed to working with all stakeholders, including the companies that produce plastic, to make recycling better,” Harrison said.
“Together we can provide a transparent and accountable system that offers the enormous economic and environmental benefits of recycling,” Harrison said.
“It’s unfortunate that people tend to do everything they can to attack the only viable solution to the sustainability problem of plastic packaging,” Alexander added.
“It works every day,” he said. “We use plastic packaging all the time, so we have to make sure it’s sustainable, and recycling is a way to do that.”
“Greenpeace activists are promoting themselves to the environment while discouraging recycling as part of the solution to the world’s waste problem,” Matt Seaholm, president and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association, said in a statement. You can’t call me a protectionist,” he said.
“There is no doubt that we as a society can and should recycle more. is,” said Seaholm. “Recycling is real, and the claims made in this document that recycling will never work result in unnecessary waste and a public reaction that may actually cause greater environmental damage.”
“Nowhere in the Greenpeace document does it focus on the value that plastic provides, such as in healthcare settings or reducing food waste,” Seaholm said.
The updated report also argued that plastics are toxic and that toxicity, along with economics, is a major barrier to recycling, “confirming the key findings of the 2020 report. Accept that the product is recycled.”
The report notes that mechanical and chemical recycling of plastics has “mostly failed and will continue to fail because plastic waste is (1) very difficult to collect and (2) difficult to recycle. (3) reprocessing is harmful to the environment; (4) it is made of toxic materials and is often contaminated; (5) it is economical to recycle. not.”
This included several case studies of failed chemical recycling plants.
“The failure of the plastic recycling concept is finally becoming too much to ignore for the companies and industry associations that promote it, and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that fund this cause,” he said. the report said.
Greenpeace calls on companies to move to a system reuse and packaging-less approach, with at least 50% reusable packaging by 2030. Standardize reusable packages and build shared reuse systems and infrastructure. Phase out all virgin or recycled single-use plastics. Annually, we release validated data on single-use packaging footprints. Advocate for political action to drive industry-wide change.
Lisa Lumsden, Senior Plastics Campaigner at Greenpeace USA, said: press release “Single-use plastic is like the trillions of confetti that retailers and fast food outlets are spitting out.”
“It’s impossible to collect the sheer volume of these tiny pieces of plastic that are sold to US consumers every year,” Ramsden said. “More plastic is being produced, but even less is being recycled. As the industry plans to triple plastic production by 2060, the crisis will only get worse and more dramatic. Without change, it will continue to get worse.”
The first survey of acceptance of plastic products in US MRFs was conducted in October 2019. The latest update, August 2022, was conducted by The Last Beach Cleanup volunteers and included two chemical engineers and a recycling industry expert. OK.
Lumsden also called on the industry to “stand on the right side of history this November and support an ambitious global plastics treaty.”
“We are at a decision point on plastic pollution,” Lumsden added. “It’s time for businesses to stop plastic faucets.”
This article has been updated to clarify how Greenpeace calculated the ‘reprocessing rate’.
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