Plastic : U.S. Plastics Pact Unveils National Strategy to Achieve 2025 Circular Economy Goals

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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, unveiled an aggressive 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, start-ups, research entities, NGOs, universities, and state and local governments across the plastics packaging value chain and includes mandatory reporting and specific timeframes in order to realize meaningful and 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,” said Emily Tipaldo, Executive Director, 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. Pact, which was formally launched in August 2020, developed the Roadmap to ensure systemic change and accelerate progress toward four specific targets that address plastic waste at its source:

Define a list of packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025.

100% of plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.

By 2025, undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging.

By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30%.

In issuing the Roadmap, the U.S. Pact and its signatories, known as Activators, will approach each of these 2025 targets by inspiring and supporting upstream innovation through an ecosystem of coordinated stakeholder initiatives. By rethinking products, packaging, and business models, Activators will accelerate the transition away from today’s take-make-waste model to a circular economy where plastics never become waste.

"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," said Erin Simon, Head, 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.”

With 2025 fast approaching, the Roadmap follows ambitious 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. 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 driven by U.S. Pact Activators who utilize working groups to leverage extensive experience from existing programs, optimize investments, identify gaps, and aid in pooling funding for areas in need. The Roadmap reflects national priorities and realities while propelling the U.S. closer to other developed nations in its management of plastic waste.

“The Roadmap is an important step toward igniting systems change for the circularity of packaging in the U.S.,” said Sarah Dearman, VP of Circular Ventures, The Recycling Partnership. “The Recycling Partnership is proud to be leading the way as we engage stakeholders from all along the full supply chain in creating scalable solutions that are tailor made to fit the unique needs of our U.S. system.”

The Roadmap serves as a significant step forward in realizing a circular economy for plastics and creates a pathway through which companies, governments, and NGOs can successfully ensure that plastics remain in the economy and out of the environment for years to come.