How to advertise and label plastic made from chemical recycling is shaping up to be an early flashpoint in the Federal Trade Commission's yearslong process to rewrite its Green Guides.
As the agency's comment deadline closed April 24, plastics groups were giving the FTC polling that shows that more than 80 percent of the public considers it OK to label a plastics package or product made with chemical recycling as containing "recycled content."
One of the key questions FTC asked for input on when it launched the rewrite in December was how consumers perceive labels like recycled content and recyclable.
The American Chemistry Council said polling it conducted showed public support for advanced recycling technologies, as did the Plastics Industry Association in a similar poll.
"Consumers are increasingly interested in supporting the environment through their purchases," said Joshua Baca, ACC's vice president of plastics. "They are asking for packaging to contain more recycled plastic and that we increase recycling after use, and the data shows people want advanced recycling to be part of the circularity solution."
But a coalition of environmental groups urged FTC to reject labeling plastic from chemical recycling as recycled content.
The group, which includes Greenpeace USA, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Last Beach Cleanup, said companies should not be able to use a technical method known as mass balance to label chemical recycling as having recycled content.
"The chemical lobbyists have created a new hoax to try to convince the FTC to allow chemical recycling to count as recycling," said Judith Enck, president of the group Beyond Plastics and a former regional administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency. "This is a critical issue, and the FTC should forcefully reject this shameless attempt to fool the public."