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US Plastics Pact releases national strategy

The national strategy aims to ensure plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

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The U.S. Plastics Pact, a consortium led by The Recycling Partnership and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact Network, has released a national strategy to ensure all plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

The strategy, titled, “Roadmap to 2025,” is supported by nearly 100 corporations, startups, research entities and nongovernmental organizations across the plastics packaging value chain, as well as by state and local governments. According to a news release from The Recycling Partnership, the strategy includes mandatory reporting and specific time frames to realize targeted outcomes for a circular economy for plastics.

“The current state of U.S. infrastructure coupled with the lack of incentives to utilize recycled content in plastic packaging have put immense strain on the value chain,” says Emily Tipaldo, executive director of The U.S. Plastics Pact. “The roadmap is designed to help U.S. industry leaders act on the significant systemwide change needed to realize a circular economy for plastics by 2025. The time frame is short, and the workload is immense, but if we choose to do nothing, the visions of a circular economy across the U.S. will give way to the status quo. We look forward to working with all our members to drive this critical change.”

The U.S. Plastics Pact, which was formally launched in August 2020, developed the road map to ensure systemic change and accelerate progress toward four specific targets that address plastic scrap:

  • defining a list of packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025;
  • ensuring 100 percent of plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025;
  • undertaking actions to effectively recycle or compost 50 percent of plastic packaging by 2025; and
  • ensuring the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging is at 30 percent by 2025. 

In issuing "Roadmap to 2025," the U.S. Plastics Pact and its signatories will approach each of these 2025 targets by supporting upstream innovation through an ecosystem of coordinated stakeholder initiatives.

“To meaningfully address the plastic waste crisis in the United States, we must unite the critical stakeholders—industry leaders, waste management systems and policymakers—under a cohesive action plan,” says Erin Simon, head of Plastic Waste and Business at World Wildlife Fund. “The roadmap will be the key for setting a national strategy that reaches our set targets and measures our progress in a consistent, transparent manner.”

According to The Recycling Partnership, the "Roadmap to 2025" follows precedents set by other pacts in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact Network, with hopes of bringing one unifying voice to plastic packaging guidelines, policy, education, labeling, access and infrastructure. Unlike any other existing U.S. initiative, the U.S. Plastics Pact provides overarching leadership and accountability by aligning to develop a national strategy, advance shared goals and measure the strength of progress through annual reporting.

“The Roadmap is an important step toward igniting systems change for the circularity of packaging in the U.S.,” says Sarah Dearman, vice president of Circular Ventures at The Recycling Partnership.