New coalition aims to improve polypropylene recycling

New coalition aims to improve polypropylene recycling

The Polypropylene Recycling Coalition aims to help MRFs improve sorting of polypropylene.

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The Recycling Partnership, Falls Church, Virginia, has launched its Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, an industry collaboration to improve polypropylene (PP) recovery and recycling in the United States and further develop end markets for high-quality recycled PP. 

According to a news release from The Recycling Partnership, the coalition has opened a request for proposals (RFP) for material recovery facilities (MRFs) to apply for financial grants to enable improved sortation of PP and widen acceptance through consumer education programs in communities. 

The Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, as a part of The Recycling Partnership’s Pathway to Circularity Initiative, is supported by funders representing all segments of the material’s value chain, including founding members Keurig Dr Pepper, Braskem and the Walmart Foundation. Additional inaugural members include American Chemistry Council, Danone North America, EFS Plastics, KW Plastics, LyondellBasell, Procter & Gamble, St. Joseph Plastics and Winpak. The coalition set an initial funding target of $35 million over five years and is seeking additional supporters.

“Together, we can stimulate a systemwide shift to increase the capture of polypropylene and demand for recycled content. We encourage all companies that use polypropylene to be part of the solution," says Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership.

In particular, Keurig Dr Pepper, Burlington, Massachusetts, has announced that it is committing $10 million over the next five years to this new coalition to help improve the recovery and recycling of PP in the U.S. According to a news release from Keurig Dr Pepper, the company has committed to providing over $30 million in collaborative projects and partnerships across North America to encourage the circular economy. Other projects the company has invested in include the American Beverage Association’s Every Bottle back initiative, the Closed Loop Fund and several initiatives led by The Recycling Partnership, Keep America Beautiful and World Wildlife Fund.

“Along with advancing our own sustainable packaging commitments, Keurig Dr Pepper is also focused on driving meaningful change in the nearly 20,000 complex recycling systems currently found across the United States through targeted investments and collaborations like the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition,” says Monique Oxender, chief sustainability officer at Keurig Dr Pepper. “Investing in partnerships that amplify our individual actions will enable us to truly drive progress in eliminating packaging waste by improving recycling infrastructure and enhancing consumer education efforts, both of which will increase the recovery of valuable plastics.”

The Recycling Partnership’s new industrywide collaborative will address key opportunities in recycling PP, or No. 5 plastic. According to The Recycling Partnership's "2020 State of Curbside Recycling" report, there may be as much as 1.6 billion pounds of PP available per year from single-family homes that could be recycled into new products ranging from automotive parts to personal care and food packaging. 

The Recycling Partnership reports that the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition’s RFP aims to improve recycling in the United States by awarding grant dollars to be applied to purchasing PP sorting equipment and supporting consumer education programs in communities. Through funding like these grants, research and consumer education programs, the coalition aims to make it easier for people to recycle PP in curbside recycling and ensure that more recyclers can effectively sort the material in their facilities.

The Polypropylene Recycling Coalition will be aided by an advisory committee of industry leaders including the Association of Plastic Recyclers, Closed Loop Partners, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Sustainable Packaging Coalition and World Wildlife Fund. Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner will serve as an independent advisor to the coalition.

An application is available on The Recycling Partnership’s website for MRFs interested in applying for a grant to sort PP.