The Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation and World Economic Forum today released “The New Plastics Economy: Catalysing Action,” which aims to address global plastics issues through innovation in packaging design, recycling, and delivery models. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued the following Statement, which may be attributed to Steve Russell, vice president, Plastics Division:

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“America’s Plastics MakersTM welcome collaborative efforts such as the Catalysing Action report aimed at promoting innovation and advancing the sustainability of plastics.

Catalysing Action recognizes that plastics combine ‘unrivalled functional properties with low cost.’ And every day plastics contribute to sustainability by reducing material use, energy use, waste, and greenhouse gas emissions in everything from packaging to transportation to homes and buildings. A recent study by Trucost found that switching from plastics to alternatives would quadruple environmental costs, causing them to grow from $139 billion to $533 billion annually.

“The Catalysing Action report focuses on recycling—an undeniably important element of material sustainability. However, critical issues of resource efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions must also be taken into account when setting policy to advance sustainability. And life cycle studies consistently find that plastic packaging delivers more food and other products with significantly less environmental impacts than alternatives.

“Looking ahead, discussions building on this report would benefit from focusing less on specific resins and more on the functionality of the package in its specific use. In the United States, partnerships that have explored the functionality issue include the Wrap Recycling Action Program, which is working to increase collection and recycling of flexible polyethylene wraps and bags at 18,000 retail locations throughout the country; the Materials Recovery for the Future initiative, which is developing technical solutions to improve recovery opportunities for film packaging; The Recycling Partnership, which brings best practices and infrastructure to underperforming communities; and programs that promote opportunities to convert non-recycled plastics into valuable fuels and energy. Additionally, building in greater input from lifecycle assessment experts and voices from rapidly developing economies would provide greater context.

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