There's a massive balancing act going on involving, well, mass balance.
PN's Steve Toloken has a story from the American Chemistry Council's recent Innovation and Circularity Summit in Florida, where experts talked about the need to use mass balance to advance chemical recycling but also fears of a backlash from environmental groups and consumers who might accuse the use of it as greenwashing.
Mass balance essentially is a way to track sustainability by mixing virgin and recycled materials in the production stream, including plastics from chemical recycling. That makes it easier to add recycled materials to the mix but doesn't specifically state how much recycled content is in a product. So, a bottle may be made using material from a production stream marked as having 25 percent recycled content, but it's nearly impossible to state for certain how much actual recycled content is in that bottle.
Companies looking to chemical recycling want to see more use of mass balance because they see it as an easier way to open doors to using plastics reclaimed through that process.
Big brand owners who would use the material, however, see it as complicating the story they tell to consumers about their approach to sustainability.
"We need to make sure that we can make that claim to the consumer in a clear way that they understand and we're not going to get labeled greenwashing," Drew Felz, Lego's Washington-based director of government and public affairs, said at the event.