As attacks on plastic recycling continue to grow from environmental groups and some companies, the Plastics Industry Association is launching a new advocacy campaign to be heard in the fight.
The trade group is launching a new website, www.recyclingisreal.com, and initially releasing four videos from different companies designed to show the importance of the process.
"This is about promoting and defending plastic recycling," CEO Matt Seaholm said during a Sept. 14 conference call to launch the campaign. "This is one of the largest initiatives that this organization has ever launched."
"What we see is a pretty consistent drumbeat that it's not just being about being against plastic for these organizations. It's about being against plastic recycling," Seaholm said.
"It's kind of amazing when you think about how things have turned so quickly. But that's why this is so important," he said.
Greenpeace issued a report in May claiming the toxicity of plastics increased with recycling. "Plastics have no place in a circular economy and it's clear that the only real solution to ending plastic pollution is to massively reduce plastic production," said Graham Forbes, Global Plastics Campaign lead at Greenpeace USA, in a statement when the report was issued.
Some companies also have built their brands on not using plastics in their packaging, including Grove Co., a cleaning and household products maker. And the "death" in the name of Liquid Death canned water refers to death to plastics.
Along with the new website and video series — new ones will be posted about every 10 days — the campaign will buy digital advertising aimed at public officials and policy makers. The association expects to spend more than $1 million.
"We're going to give a voice to the workers, the innovators who are doing this on a daily basis," Seaholm said. "They are proud of the work they do."
Initial videos from plastics recyclers Ultra-Poly Corp., Placon Corp. and Novolex as well as recycling equipment marker Maag Group are now online.
The Association of Plastic Recyclers is a trade group that represents the vast majority of post-consumer recycled plastic processing capacity in the United States through its member companies. So that trade group has skin in the game when it comes to the issue.
"We welcome all groups who will help amplify this message with factual information, but this messaging must be paired with effective policy solutions at the state and federal level to improve recycling collection and the use of post-consumer recycled content in new products," APR CEO Steve Alexander said in an email interview.
"At the Association of Plastic Recyclers, we know that plastic recycling is real because APR members, who represent every link of the $5 billion plastics recycling industry supply chain, recycle millions of pounds of post-consumer plastic every day," he said. "The work of U.S. recyclers strengthens the circular economy and creates a more sustainable, less wasteful world."
Seaholm allowed that those voicing concerns about plastic recycling are having an impact.
"This consistent messaging campaign, and a coordinated one I would say at that, is really impeding our progress toward solutions," he said. "It's an erosion of faith in recycling and really a disappointing one."