ACC asks Congress to prioritize recycling legislation in 2021
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ACC asks Congress to prioritize recycling legislation in 2021

The American Chemistry Council is encouraging legislators to focus on plastics recycling initiatives given the industry’s goal of recovering 100 percent of plastic packaging in the U.S. by 2040.

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November 17, 2020

In recognition of America Recycles Day, the Washington-based American Chemistry Council (ACC) and U.S.-based plastic makers have called on Congress to work with industry to prioritize recycling legislation in 2021. 

Joshua Baca, vice president of plastics for ACC, says the plastics industry has “an ambitious goal of reusing, recycling or recovering 100 percent of plastic packaging in the U.S. by 2040.” 

He continues, “All of us have an interest in ensuring that plastics are collected and recycled into new and valuable products instead of ending up in our environment, and success will require many forms of collaboration. We look forward to working with Congress on ways to create more circular solutions for plastics.”

Last month, Baca says ACC released a Roadmap to Reuse, which is a framework that outlines steps to grow recycling and recovery in the U.S., as well as guiding principles for eliminating plastic waste that can help shape legislation and other actions to help grow recycling and plastics recovery.

According to a news release from ACC, multiple approaches are outlined in its guiding principles to help grow and modernize plastics recycling domestically:

  • national standards for recycling programs, education and plastic bales to harmonize best practices and greatly scale buying and selling of recycled plastics; 
  • multimaterial packaging fees and higher disposal fees to support funding for basic collection, access to infrastructure and consumer education; 
  • recycled-content legislation, which would help facilitate greater use of recycled plastics in new packaging and other goods;
  • the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, which would support scientists and agencies in studying innovative ways to repurpose used plastics and minimize plastic waste generation; and
  • updated regulatory frameworks that classify advanced recycling technologies as manufacturing processes instead of waste disposal, which helps advanced recycling technology providers expand and create new economic opportunities to repurpose plastics into valuable new feedstocks for plastics and other products of chemistry. 

Earlier this year, the ACC also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Energy to support innovations in plastics recycling and recovery technologies and strengthen domestic supply chains while improving economic and environmental outcomes. ACC is also working with other partners on various recycling projects, including The Recycling Partnership, Closed Loop Partners and the Association of Plastic Recyclers. 

ACC reports that it is seeing “real signs of progress” in investments in domestic plastic recycling. As of September, the association says 64 projects have been announced in mechanical and advanced recycling in the U.S., valued at $5.3 billion. ACC says these projects could potentially divert more than 4 million metric tons (or about 8.9 billion pounds) of waste from landfills each year.

ACC adds that its members have announced commitments to reuse plastics in creating new products:

  • Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. announced the production of circular polyethylene using advanced recycling technology and a target to produce 1 billion pounds of the product by 2030.
  • LyondellBasell set a sustainability goal to produce 2 million metric tons of recycled and renewable-based polymers annually by 2030.
  • Shell has committed that by 2025 it will use 1 million metric tons of postuse plastic per year as an alternative feedstock at its chemical plants around the world.