Technological watch

The Plastic Waste Problem Is Real, So Is the Solution

WASHINGTON (March 5, 2020)—Rolling Stone magazine this week published an article called “Planet Plastic,” focusedon the problem of plastic waste. The American Chemistry Council issued thefollowing statement, which may be attributed to Keith Christman, ACC’s managingdirector of plastics markets:

“Rolling Stone’s recent article “Planet Plastic” tells an important story in a misleading way. The accumulation of plastic waste is a very real problem that will take substantive actions and ongoing coordination to solve. Everyone from plastic makers to government to nonprofits to individual citizens has an important role to play.

Plastic makers are deeply committed to being part of the solution. Our goals – to reuse, recycle or recover all plastic packaging in the United States by 2040 and to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030 – demonstrate our commitment to help eliminate plastic waste, and our belief that it can be done.

In the past 18 months, the private sector has invested more than $4 billion in advanced recycling technologies. These processes can manufacture a wider range of products from a wider range of used plastics than traditional recycling methods, while helping to reduce our carbon footprint. The nearly 50 members of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste have committed to invests $1.5 billion over five years, to identify solutions that will help end plastic waste in the environment. Investments like these are expected to grow and scale in the future. 

Frustration with the current state of waste management is understandable. It’s vital that we fix our outdated recycling system, but recycling alone won’t solve the problem.

Driving waste out of our systems will require a range of solutions, such as using plastics more efficiently, designing products and packaging that are easier to recycle, developing new technologies, forging new business models, promoting sound public policies, and investing in infrastructure.

Originally conceived to collect just bottles, local recycling programs now process a host of materials, and investments haven’t kept up with product and packaging innovations. Across the country, more than 10,000 localities manage their own recycling systems, and most handle recycling differently. The good news is that these are fixable problems. The better news is that the plastics industry is already working to reduce waste through partnerships, innovation and investments in modern and efficient waste management here in the United States and around the globe.

Publication date: 05/03/2020

American Plastics Council

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2020-07-14