The U.S. Plastics Pact today released its Problematic and Unnecessary Materials List, which identifies 11 packaging-related products and materials that “are not currently widely reusable, recyclable, or compostable” in the United States and “should not be kept in a closed loop in practice and at scale by 2025.” Its release responds to a US Pact commitment to “define a list of problematic or unnecessary packaging by 2021,” a goal of the organization. . Roadmap to 2025which is based on the comprehensive framework developed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
The US Plastics Pact includes more than 100 companies, including materials suppliers, packaging companies and major retailers, as well as non-profit and government organizations. The press release notes that the pact’s individual “activators,” as member companies are called, do not necessarily endorse the list of problematic and unnecessary materials.
The list includes the following, which the American Compact suggests eliminating, in alphabetical order:
- Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) intentionally added either in the packaging or in the manufacture of this packaging.
- Undetectable pigments such as carbon black.
- Opaque or pigmented PET — polyethylene terephthalate bottles (any color other than transparent blue or green).
- Oxo-degradable additives, including oxo-biodegradable additives.
- PETG — polyethylene terephthalate glycol in rigid packaging.
- Problematic label constructions including adhesives, inks, materials (e.g. PETG, PVC, PLA, paper). Avoid formats/materials/characteristics that render packaging harmful or non-recyclable according to the APR Design Guide. Labels should meet APR Preferred guidelines for coverage and compatibility and be tested in any areas where this is unclear.
- PS — polystyrene, including EPS (expanded polystyrene).
- PVC – polyvinyl chloride, including PVDC (polyvinylidene chloride).
Caveats: Cutlery, straws, and stirrers are considered problematic when deemed non-reusable, non-recyclable, or non-compostable under American Compact definitions and supplied as an accessory to the main container. For example, a pack of plastic cutlery that comes with a prepared salad or a straw/stirrer that comes with a to-go drink would be defined as problematic, while cutlery, straws or stirrers sold as a product would not.
The list applies exclusively to plastic packaging. Medical plastics used in clinics, hospitals, and related laboratory and research environments are not included.
The full document, including an explanation of the criteria used to establish the list, can be found on the US Plastics Pact website.
The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued press releases raising concerns shortly after the listing was released. For PLASTICS, the American Pact is “a group of well-meaning companies and organizations” that “do not reflect the views of the plastics industry at large”. In ACC’s view, the process “lacks a transparent, data-driven, science-based third-party approach, and . . . seems to be rooted in a predetermined and mistaken ideology and outcome.
PLASTICS: It’s the pact that’s the problem
“It’s much easier to make lists than to live with the unintended consequences of eliminating certain types of products,” PLASTICS President and CEO Tony Radoszewski said in a prepared statement. “Product packaging is designed with specific functions or applications in mind, even if these are not immediately obvious to the end customer. For example, plastic is often the most economical choice for the producer and consumer, as well as the greenest option. Banning products can lead to the use of alternatives that have a much greater impact on the environment.”
The U.S. Plastics Pact is free to decide what materials and products it does or does not want to sell, or finds “problematic,” Radoszewski added, but “PLASTICS finds it problematic that the pact hopes to tell others how to run their businesses in restricting their choices.
ACC: Disposal of materials would hamper sustainability goals
For its part, the ACC suggests that phasing out some of these materials by 2025 is counterproductive to accelerating a circular economy and, in fact, “would slow progress toward a low-carbon future.” carbon, and would reduce [the] ability to use greater amounts of recycled materials in plastic packaging.
“In the midst of a global supply chain and inflation crisis, the recommendations made by the U.S. Plastics Pact will compound setbacks at a time when consumers seek certainty, not further disruption, global supply chains,” said ACC Vice President Plastics Joshua Baca. “Furthermore, the pact’s recommendations are likely to increase food waste, promote the use of many materials with higher carbon footprints than plastics, and do little to meet ambitious value chain sustainability goals. plastics.”
In its response, the ACC noted that the plastics industry was one of the first to set ambitious circularity targets in 2018, calling for 100% of plastic packaging to be reused, recycled or recovered. “We hope the pact will partner with us to leverage our industry expertise and the tremendous work we have done to achieve a more circular economy for all materials by scaling up the growth of innovative recycling technologies – rather than promote de facto ban on certain types of plastic packaging,” Baca said.