APR launches program to expand market demand for recycled resin

APR launches program to expand market demand for recycled resin

The APR Recycling Demand Champion Campaign also seeks to improve plastics recycling in North America.

October 18, 2017

The Washington-based Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) has announced the launch of its Recycling Demand Champion Campaign, a new program designed to expand market demand for recycled resins and to improve plastic recycling in North America.

The APR Recycling Demand Champion Campaign aims to increase the use of polyolefin (polypropylene or polyethylene) postconsumer resin (PCR) by focusing on “work in process” (WIP) items used in manufacturing, such as trash cans, pallets and tote boxes.

Demand Champions sign a letter of intent to identify and use these WIPs in their facilities and to require PCR content in them. As the program adds more participants, this will increase the demand for postconsumer recycled polyolefins, the APR says.

“This program will drive demand for broad specification PCR produced from mixed residential plastics,” says Liz Bedard, director of the APR Rigid Plastic Recycling Program. “We have identified potential end markets for PCR in WIP durable goods such as crates, tote boxes, cans, pails, drums, trash or recycle bins, pallets, transport packaging and other items.”

APR President Steve Alexander says, “We know there are increased environmental and economic benefits that come from recycling, but only if the materials recycled are made into new products or goods. Any company looking to catalyze those benefits can have a positive impact on the recycling system by directing those recycled resins into WIP goods that they are already purchasing on a regular basis.”

The association says it will work to expand participation in this program in partnership with brand owners, retailers, trade organizations and other members of the recycling value chain. “We welcome any company to join the Demand Champion program,” Alexander says.

“This program is open to anyone in the industry,” says Steve Sikra, chair of the APR Rigids Committee and associate director of solid waste management, the Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G), Cincinnati. “APR has the tools and connections to make the use of PCR straightforward in these WIP items. Let's use this as a platform to advance PCR use.”

The initial Recycling Demand Champions are Berry Global, Campbells Soup Co., Coca-Cola North America, Envision Plastics, Keurig Green Mountain Inc., KW Plastics, Merlin Plastics, Plastipak/Clean Tech Inc., P&G and Target Corp. Participating companies will regularly report progress updating their increased use of PCR in these areas, so positive impacts expanding and increasing the use of PCR may be anonymously aggregated and collectively reported, the association says.

“The initial participants represent a starting point,” Alexander says. “We began approaching companies in the past several weeks, and have been greatly encouraged by the response. Now that the program has been launched, recruitment efforts will accelerate, and we anticipate announcing a broader group of participants of companies of all sizes and industry focus at the Plastics Recycling Conference in February," he says, referring to the event organized by Resource Recycling that will take place in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 19-21, 2018.

“This program represents a critical step in expanding the use of PCR in the marketplace,” he continues. “It represents a major shift in the paradigm of major brands and manufacturers in identifying an expanded menu of options for the use of recycled material in a broader array of products.”

Target recently became the first major retail member of APR, completing the association’s engagement across the full supply chain of materials: MRFs, equipment suppliers, recyclers, converters, consumer brand companies and retailers. Signing on to the APR Recycling Demand Champion Program builds on the five sustainable packaging goals that Target announced earlier this year.

Tom Busard, president of Clean Tech, Plymouth, Michigan-based Plastipak’s recycling affiliate, and former chair of the APR Board, says, “As both a container manufacturer and plastic recycler, we are uniquely positioned to understand the impact of this program from both the supply and demand side of the industry.”