- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and American Chemistry Council (ACC) have announced a new partnership to focus on improving the diversion of plastics through a sustainable materials management approach.
- Areas of focus will include source reduction, recycling, reuse and prevention; reducing the environmental effects of plastics through their lifecycles; and raising the per capita amount of plastics recovered for recycling.
- The EPA will also join the Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP), which aims to increase recycling opportunities for plastic bags and film via drop-off programs.
This partnership is a notable step in the EPA's efforts to promote sustainable materials management and comes as the agency's most recent national data shows plastics account for an estimated 18% of material being sent to landfills. A study commissioned by the ACC this year found that the environmental costs of using plastic were on average four times less than other material, which both the organization and others in the field found surprising.
Bringing the EPA into WRAP is also a big step as the majority of partners are from brands and the plastics industry at this point. So far the state governments of North Carolina and Connecticut, as well as the city of Vancouver, have also signed on. In addition to thousands of drop-off locations, multiple companies are also working on ways to enhance the recycling markets for plastic film. The Closed Loop Fund recently awarded $300,000 in grant money to two companies working on this.
Environmental groups show no sign of letting up in their efforts to reduce the amount of plastic being manufactured, particularly for single-use applications. Encouraged by the success of California's Proposition 67 — which upheld a 2014 statewide bag ban — advocates are moving forward with plans to ban or limit the use of plastic products in multiple states.