Some plastics industry groups are pushing back strongly against the list, saying that while they support the pact's overall goal of more circular use of plastics, they see the list as a de facto ban on some plastic packaging.
They say it could result in switching to materials without the performance of plastics or that have a higher overall environmental footprint.
The American Chemistry Council criticized the pact's approach.
"The U.S. Plastics Pact lacked a transparent third-party, data-driven and scientific approach, and its process seems to be rooted in ideology and a predetermined, misguided outcome," said Joshua Baca, vice president of plastics at the group. "ACC has offered to partner with the pact to provide insight, expertise and data to no avail."
Besides PS, EPS and PVC, the phaseout list includes three commonly littered products — cutlery, stirrers and straws — as well as other packaging materials seen as contaminating recycling streams. They include oxo-degradable additives; rigid packaging made from glycol-modified PET; problematic labels; intentionally added fluorinated PFAS chemicals; and nondetectable pigments like carbon black and opaque or pigmented PET bottles, except for transparent blue or green.
The list of problematic materials is one of four broad goals the pact has set for itself. The others are, by 2025, to reach 50 percent of plastics packaging being recycled or composted; having 30 percent recycled content and having 100 percent of plastics packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable.
Within the plastics industry, the development of the list had been closely watched and in the runup to its release, the Plastics Industry Association in December called it an approach that won't work.
With the report out, the association in a Jan. 25 statement called the pact “well intentioned” but said it’s “problematic that the pact hopes to tell others how to run their businesses by restricting their choices.”
Smaller groups very directly impacted, like the EPS Industry Alliance, predicted economic and environmental harm and said companies would have trouble finding suitable alternatives to EPS in some applications.
The Vinyl Institute said putting “arbitrary restrictions on PVC packaging will not improve the recycling rate of other plastics because there is so little PVC in the curbside collection stream.”
But plastics industry reaction was hardly monolithic.
The Association of Plastic Recyclers, which sits on the pact's advisory council, agreed that getting rid of problematic materials will help recycling systems work better.
"There is a need for change in the system, and the pact list is a first step," said President and CEO Steve Alexander. "The reality is that there are no real surprises on the list. The industry knows what the problems are as we deal with them everyday."
He said the pact encouraged companies to use the APR design guidelines for recyclability.
The National Association for PET Container Resources, also a member of the pact, said the list would make PET recycling streams cleaner.
"Overall, we believe the impact to PET will be positive, in the sense that it will eliminate contamination in the bale," said Darrel Collier, the group's executive director.
The PET industry group didn't agree with everything on the list. Collier said they argued inside the pact against phasing out the colored and opaque PET bottles because they see "future opportunities" to recycle them with new technologies.
But he said he understands why the pact kept them on the phaseout list, since those new recycling technologies may not be ready by the pact's 2025 deadline.
"We understand this decision as there are limited recovery systems in place today, given the ambitious targets of the pact by 2025," Collier said.
Indeed, some of the plastics industry's concern with the list deals the 2025 timeline.
ACC's Baca said the pact is choosing to ban materials because its targets are too ambitious, and he pointed to an ACC goal for 30 percent recycled content in plastic packaging by 2030 as a more reasonable target.
"I think the process here is when you have ambitious goals without a way to get there, the first thing you do is say, 'Hey, why don't we essentially ban this stuff,'" Baca said. "That tells me they haven't done the hard work to get there."