A cross-border U.S.-Canada business group has released a plan for reducing plastic packaging waste and litter in the Great Lakes region.
The plan includes establishing consistent container deposit programs and investing in technology to recycle flexible packaging, according to the Council of the Great Lakes Region, which has offices in Cleveland and Ottawa, Ontario.
CGLR's Circular Great Lakes initiative is aimed at creating a circular economy and achieving a cleaner Great Lakes region.
The group released a circular economy action plan for plastics on June 28. Plastics companies supporting the project include Dow Inc., Charter Next Generation Inc., Dart Container Corp. and Pregis LLC.
"Over the last couple of years through our work, and working alongside a number of different partners, we have clearly seen that plastic waste and plastic litter are of great concern to the binational Great Lakes region," CGLR CEO Mark Fisher said in an interview with Plastics News.
"Beach cleanups show that roughly 80 percent of the materials washing up on the shoreline is plastic. We find that even after decades of recycling, we're still seeing way too much valuable material that's used by consumers being sent by landfills."
CGLR's first priority is to make sure that every household in the region has access to a recycling program that would be able to recycle the different kinds of materials that consumers use. The goal, set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is to be able to achieve a 50 percent recycling rate.
CGLR is making it a key point to be able to have a working system and marketplace for the recycled material.
"A key priority for us is to make sure that we have that collection, processing and end market supply chain working in this region to support that," Fisher said.
The second priority is to work directly with policymakers to create more supportive policies for recovery and reuse. Also, creating policies that can help reduce the demand for some of the plastics materials being used in the region.
"Right now, we have policies that differ across the region, differ across levels of government, and unfortunately in many cases, those policies favor landfilling over recovery and reuse," Fisher said.