Meeting the ambitious goals of the new U.S. Plastics Pact will require major changes in packaging design and recycling, according to the head of the organization.
Emily Tipaldo, executive director for the pact, thinks it could, for example, require doubling the recycling rate for plastic bottles and asking hard questions about whether companies should keep using resins with poor track records around sustainability.
The pact was formed in August by consumer product brands — and major buyers of plastic — such as Coca-Cola Co., Unilever US and Clorox Co., who see it as a way to find common ground at a pre-competitive level to meet ambitious plastics goals that they have publicly set.
At its August launch, it announced some big goals for plastic packaging, all by 2025. They include a 50 percent recycling and composting rate, 30 percent recycled or bio-based content, having 100 percent of plastic packaging be reusable, recyclable or compostable, and eliminating “problematic” plastic packaging.
When you consider the gap between those goals and where plastics recycling is now in the U.S. — the overall U.S. recycling rate for plastics in containers and packaging is 13.6 percent — there’s a lot of ground to make up.
By the end of the year, the pact plans to publish its list of “problematic or unnecessary” packaging that member companies aim to phase out by 2025. Tipaldo said the list illustrates how the pact’s goals are intertwined because replacing hard-to-recycle resins with different materials or with reusable packaging will make it easier for the pact to hit its 50 percent overall recycling rate.
The group, she said, will be “thinking through what are the resins and [packaging] formats that we really need to maximize in order to achieve that 50 percent piece.”