There's a lot of demand for a more circular plastics industry — a call not only coming from activists, but also coming from inside the (metaphorical) house.
Just consider the news the past few days that Plastics News staffers Jim Johnson and Steve Toloken have been reporting from the Plastics Recycling Conference in Maryland.
The Recycling Partnership is setting up a program to ensure PET bottles collected for recycling actually get recycled, polypropylene recycler SER North America is already planning to double capacity at its new facility in Anderson, Ind., and the American Chemistry Council and legislators shared a stage to talk about extended producer responsibility.
That's in addition to PP recycler PureCycle raising funds to finance a new plant in Georgia, the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council blasting chemical recycling as "greenwashing," an Arizona PET recycler moving into a larger facility to accomodate growth and PET giant Indorama Ventures Public Co. Ltd. saying it is on its way to meet its goal for increased recycled products.
But despite all that, the needle on recycling and a circular economy simply is not moving fast enough, far enough.
The U.S. Plastics Pact released a report March 7 saying that consumer companies that have pledged to have 25 percent recycled content in packaging by 2025 are only at a fraction of that number.
And back at the Plastics Recycling Conference, Emily Friedman from ICIS noted that the industry will need to see "exponential growth" in recycling to meet brand owners' sustainability targets. For 2025 targets, the U.S. will need at least another 145 mechanical recycling plants. For 2030 targets, the industry would need a 45 percent compounded annual growth rate.
"So this is just really astronomical the amount of material that we're going to need," Friedman said.