Single-use packaging and plastics took center stage at the GreenBiz Circularity conference this week, with concerns about the state of recycling topping the list.
Sustainability and marketing consultant Suzanne Shelton told the online portion of the event that the public sees recycling as its "guilt-free card" so we don't have to feel bad about what we buy.
But here's the problem, as Shelton lays out: With the public feeling that recycling's not working, they're uncomfortable, and companies need to help work on fixing recycling, making composting work at curbside and accelerating circularity and reuse.
It's similar to what she told us in an appearance in March at our Plastics News Executive Forum, where she delivered a more detailed and more plastics-focused presentation.
Other GreenBiz opening speakers pushed for systematic change in recycling. Keefe Harrison, head of The Recycling Partnership, came off the opening day stage and penned this blog on how $17 billion over five years would go a long way toward addressing problems.
She pointed to Colorado's new extended producer responsibility legislation, which she said could extend curbside recycling in the state. Six of Colorado's 10 largest cities don't have universal curbside recycling service.
There's a lot needed on many fronts, including more recycled content in products to boost markets and working systems of reusable packaging, but at a shockingly basic level, access to recycling services remains a problem in the U.S.