While the plastics industry doesn’t support everything included in Senate Bill 54 that passed last year in Sacramento, one thing we can all agree on is our commitment to keeping plastic out of the environment and the economy by increasing the rate of recycling. – recycle.
The way we see it, we are all in this together, and a true spirit of cooperation is needed to achieve the recycling goals currently established by law. Unfortunately, there are some who claim that plastic recycling “just doesn’t work” and continue to create roadblocks to achieving important sustainability goals, namely increasing the rate of recycling. – recycle.
Over the past few years, the plastics industry has announced over $8 billion in investments in new technologies, facilities, and innovations that will make recycling even more of a reality. In the same few years, we have seen a dramatic change in the message coming from anti-plastic activist organizations, which seem more interested in perpetuating a problem than solving one.
They say things like “plastic recycling is a myth.” They obstructed the law of compromise. They even tell people not to bother with recycling. That is not environmentalism, and this is why the industry has launched a campaign to say three little words in a big way – recycling is real.
Tens of thousands of Americans work every day to make this happen, and that’s exactly what our industry’s new initiative, Recycling Is Real, can show you. We traveled all over America and filmed ordinary people doing extraordinary things, including right here in California. We show that it is possible for that bottle that you use now, or even the bumper of your car from years ago, to stay in our economy and outside the environment, giving it another life, sometimes more than once.
For many, “recyclable” defines whether an item can be placed in the blue or green bin. But the truth is, that’s just the first step in a process that turns a used product into material that can become another product. Recycling is real The recycling industry’s commitment is highlighted by showing who these people really are and that their role in the circular economy is not fictional or imaginary.
From shredding old material to extruding new material or creating equipment that makes it possible to design safe new ways to put more recycled content into products, the people in these videos invite viewers to come and see what they are doing, showing us that recycling is undeniably feasible and economical. Going forward, this campaign will continue to share examples of recycling success stories.
Naysayers from anti-recycling groups tend to say, “If recycling is real, then why are some recycling rates so low?” That’s a fair question and one that’s easy to answer. The infrastructure for recycling has simply not kept up with the remarkable innovations in products and materials over the past decades. This includes innovations that provide value in other ways, such as reducing food waste, improving safety, and reducing the material used to make a product.
We need to invest in recycling infrastructure, and, as an industry, we understand that we have a role to play in helping to fund that infrastructure. That’s why we support well-established extended producer responsibility programs, which place a small fee on products made in the plastic industry, especially packaging. This is also the reason why the plastics industry supports achievable minimum recycled content requirements that establish guaranteed end markets for the material and, in turn, encourage private investment.
But manufacturers and recyclers cannot raise prices on their own. We need partners—legislators who share our commitment to sustainability and solutions, brand owners dedicated to using recycled content in products and packaging, and retail establishments that want to make it as easy as possible to put the used product in the blue bin. And yes, consumers should be at the heart of this effort by finding that trash and knowing where to go.
I encourage you to listen to the words of workers, including those right here in California, who proudly demonstrate that recycling is far from a “myth.” This happens every day and once we agree on the reality of recycling and end the false narratives, we can work together to get recycling rates where we all want them to be.