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Published September 2, 2020
Published September 2, 2020
Photo: Nick Fewings via Unsplash

The U.S. Plastics Pact, a collaboration led by The Recycling Partnership and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), launched as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network. The Pact aims to ignite further change toward a circular economy for plastic with the support of 60+ brands, retailers, government agencies, and NGOs collaborating to advance all plastic packaging to become reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.

“Together, through the U.S. Plastics Pact, we will ignite systems change to accelerate progress toward a circular economy,” says Sarah Dearman, VP of Circular Ventures for The Recycling Partnership. “As the lead organization that engages the full supply chain to advance circularity in the U.S., it’s a natural fit for The Recycling Partnership to further collaborative action with other industry leaders to create substantial, long-lasting change for the betterment of our planet. The results from the U.S. Plastics Pact’s efforts to advance packaging, improve recycling, and reduce plastic waste will benefit the entire system and all materials.”

In line with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s vision of a circular economy for plastic, which unites more than 850+ organizations underpinned by common definitions and concrete targets, the U.S. Plastics Pact brings together plastic packaging producers, brands, retailers, recyclers, waste management companies, policymakers, and other stakeholders to work collectively toward scalable solutions tailored to the unique needs and challenges within the US landscape through vital knowledge sharing and coordinated action.

As of today, more than 60 Activators—including for-profit companies, government agencies, and NGOs—have joined the U.S. Plastics Pact, representing each part of the supply and plastics manufacturing chain. By joining the U.S. Plastics Pact, Activators agree to collectively deliver these four targets:

  1. Define a list of packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025. ​
  2. By 2025, all plastic packaging is 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable. ​
  3. By 2025, undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging.
  4. By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30%. ​

Results of measurable change in each of the target areas and transparent reporting are key outcomes of the U.S. Plastics Pact. Progress of the U.S. Pact will be tracked through WWF’s ReSource: Plastic Footprint Tracker, which provides a standard methodology to track companies’ plastic footprints and publicly report on their plastic waste commitments each year. The report will be made publicly available each year.

“This is an exciting step on the journey towards a circular economy for plastic in the United States, one that keeps plastic in the economy and out of the environment,” says Sander Defruyt, Lead for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative. “This effort will not only help to create solutions in the US, but across the world, as part of our global network of Plastics Pacts. We are looking forward to working with all those involved to drive real change, by eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastic items, innovating to ensure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and circulating it in practice. We encourage others to join us on this journey towards a United States free of plastic waste and pollution.”

Advisory Council members are:

  • Amcor
  • Balcones Resources Inc.
  • Austin Resource Recovery (City of Austin, TX)
  • Eureka Recycling
  • Grove Collaborative
  • Mars Inc.
  • Target
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Unilever United States
  • Walmart, Inc.

Viviana Alvarez, Head of Sustainability – North America at Unilever, says, “We can start to address the plastic waste issue by taking fast and transformative action at every point in the plastic cycle. Recycling alone can’t solve the circular economy, but the circular economy can help solve the problem on waste and recycling.”

Alvarez adds, “Keeping plastic in the economy and out of the environment will require everyone to work together—whether that’s product designers, governments, consumers, or the waste management industry.”

Both Henkel and L’Oréal have both joined The Pact; hopefully, we’ll see more beauty brands join the movement.


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