For the record: Increasing plastics recycling is a real and ongoing priority for the American Chemistry Council's Plastics Division; it's an important part of my job and those of my colleagues; and it's something we all feel passionate about in our professional and personal lives. It was very disappointing to see author Susan Freinkel suggest otherwise [in her book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story].
Over the last two decades, plastics makers and plastics recyclers together have spent more than $2 billion on developing technologies, building infrastructure and increasing education to grow plastics recycling. Plastics makers — our members — have been at the forefront of these efforts because they understand it's the right thing to do.
In recent years, we've helped fund startup programs to educate consumers about opportunities to recycle plastic bags and product wraps in five states and three major counties. And innovations in recycling, tips for consumers and new products made with recycled plastics content are a major emphasis of the plastics industry's new Plastics Make it Possible campaign.
We believe that measurement is key to improvement, and while continuing to help fund annual reports on the recycling of plastic bottles, we've started yearly tracking of recycling of plastic bags and rigid containers, both of which have increased significantly in recent years with bag recycling rising 31 percent over five years and rigid container recycling spiking nearly 50 percent in just two.
Just last year, a major non-profit began to formulate a new national campaign aimed at increasing consumer know-how on recycling everyday materials, including plastics, and the American Chemistry Council was the first group to commit to help fund that effort.
To be very clear, our work is continuing in earnest. Like other leaders in the plastics industry, the American Chemistry Council agrees that recycling — along with reducing, reusing and recovering — is a key driver of sustainability. And while it may not make as many Earth Day headlines as electric cars or solar cells, recycling is still something that all of us can do to make a difference on Earth Day and every day.
The American Chemistry Council has worked hard to make that happen and we're continuing to work to increase opportunities to recycle more of the valuable materials our members make — and all of us rely on — every day.
Vice president, plastics
American Chemistry Council