Brands and manufacturers unveil list of “problematic and unnecessary materials”

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More than 100 companies, organizations and government agencies came together on Tuesday to present a “List of Problematic and Unnecessary Materials” to accelerate the transition to a “circular economy” for plastic packaging in the US

The companies and groups, all members of the US Plastic Pact, identified 11 plastic packaging items that they consider non-reusable, recyclable or compostable on a large scale and that they expect to eliminate by 2025, the partners said in a press release.

“The elimination of these problematic and unnecessary materials will enable advances in circular packaging design, increase recovery opportunities and improve the quality of recycled content available to manufacturers,” said Emily Tipaldo, executive director of US Plastic Pact, in a statement.

The US Plastic Pact was established in August 2020 as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact Network. The group aims to make 100 percent of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, while all such packaging will contain 30 percent recycled or bio-based content by then, according to the pact.

A circular economy – which Pact members say they are striving for – is one in which manufacturing focuses on extending the lifecycle of products and minimizing waste.

Some of the materials on the list include opaque or pigmented polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles in any color other than transparent blue or green, oxo-degradable additives, polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG) in rigid packaging, and intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — too known as “Forever Chemicals”.

Other materials include undetectable pigments such as carbon black, polystyrene (PS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and a group of materials the Pact has described as “problematic label constructions,” including adhesives and inks that render packaging harmful or harmless. recyclable.

Cutlery, stirrers and straws are also included in the list if they are non-reusable, non-recyclable or non-compostable and are provided as an accessory pack with the primary container according to the pact. This means a pack of plastic cutlery provided with a prepared salad would be defined as problematic, while cutlery, straws or stirrers sold as separate units would not be defined as such, the press release said.

In addition to not being reusable, recyclable or compostable, materials on the list meet one of four other criteria: they pose a risk to human health, they could be avoided, they interfere with the recyclability of other items, or they have one high probability of being littered according to the pact.

The retailers, consumer products companies and converters that are members of the US Plastic Pact collectively produce about 33 percent of US plastic packaging “in scope” — meaning all additional, unnecessary plastic packaging — by weight, the release said.

The many companies supporting the pact include Coca-Cola, Aldi, Amcor, L’Oreal USA, General Mills, Colgate, Conagra, Nestle, Kimberly-Clark and Danone North America.

“Recycling will only work if we stop pumping pollutants and non-recyclable materials into the system,” said Anja Malawi Brandon, US plastics policy analyst at the NGO Ocean Conservancy, in a statement.

“Our research shows that much of the debris found on beaches and waterways around the world each year during the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup is virtually irrecyclable,” added Malawai Brandon. “The phasing out of these 11 materials will go a long way towards cleaning up the recycling stream and our shores.”

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