Materials supplier Blue Clover LLC is offering ARC recycling credits to its customers.
ARCs are Attributes of Recycled Content and are a certificate-based trading system that's part of the recycled material standard (RMS). Officials with New York-based Blue Clover said that certificate trading systems — also known as environmental commodities — "created radical transformation in other sustainability sectors [such as carbon credits] and are now being developed for the recycling industry."
They added that these systems help companies that use oil- and gas-based materials or emit greenhouse gas emissions to invest in renewable products to offset their environmental cost. In that sense, ARCS are similar to carbon credits.
"As a distributor of virgin polypropylene resin, we're making an effort to be involved in recycling infrastructure," Blue Clover partner Gerard Selvaggio said in a video call with Plastics News. "We want to help our customers meet their recycling goals."
An ARC is generated at the recycler level and is defined as a claim associated with 1 metric ton, or about 2,200 pounds, of output produced from recycled input materials. Blue Clover officials said that the ARC program is a financial market in which parties responsible for virgin resin invest in new plastics recycling projects in North America to bridge the gap until more affordable, consistent quality material is available to processors and brands.
"ARCs separate the environmental attribute from the physical material and allow it to be traded on the open market," they added.
Before recycling facilities are certified to generate ARCs, the companies are audited by a third party to ensure the recycler complies with the RMS standard. Recycling facilities need to prove to the auditor that certain tests are met. In order to generate ARCs, recyclers must prove that the ARCs are driving increased investment in plastics recycling.
When ARC generators allocate some portion of their recycled output to ARCs, they must demonstrate that they have removed the recycled claim for the corresponding physical material they sold. Each ARC is tracked through an online registry system at RMS to assure ownership and retirement of the ARC, officials said.
Blue Clover gave an example of how plastics processors could use ARCs. A processor committed to supporting investments in recycling technology through buying ARC certificates can buy post-consumer polypropylene ARCs equal to 30 percent of its products.
"Quality post-consumer PP is more difficult to source at scale than other recycled plastic grades, yet [the processor] remains committed to a sustainable future," officials said. "These ARCs allow us to invest in post-consumer PP recycling projects to bridge the gap to larger volumes of high-quality recycled PP in the future."
ACT Commodities of New York also is supplying ARCs and other environmental products to its customers. "Being able to provide ARC credits is significant for ACT and for companies eager to reduce their plastic waste," ACT strategist Dylan Lubbe said. "Since plastic use increased dramatically during the pandemic, finding a solution to repurpose and recycle this potential waste is imperative.
"We need to dramatically increase recycling capacity globally, and as we work toward plastic circularity, RMS credits will be critical to increasing the availability of quality recycled materials," he added.