TEMPE, Arizona, and FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Consortium for Sustainable Development on Tuesday announced the formation of a new coalition of businesses and organizations committed to creating resources to recycle small-format packaging and other materials. It is the first such coalition to include CPG companies, nonprofits and universities. TSC, along with P&G, Burt’s Bees, Colgate-Palmolive, GSK, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, The Recycling Partnership, Balcones Resources, U of A and Arizona State University are collaborating to accelerate progress in creating increased circularity of packaging from small format of all types of materials through science-based collective action projects.
The Association of Plastics Recyclers defines small-format products and packaging as items less than 2 inches in two dimensions and has developed associated sorting protocols for further testing. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that 10 percent of all packaging by weight is small. The small size is commonly used in cosmetics and foodservice (e.g. lip balms, compacts, travel-size shampoo, on-the-go containers, and disposable utensils), but includes items such as beverage bottle caps, toys and other small packaging components that are currently not recyclable in most selective collections. programs due to the size of the screens used for sorting in material recovery facilities. Because of these challenges, the majority of small formats go to landfill or have the potential to become waste, rather than being captured as valuable material that can be used in other products and packaging via a more pathway. circular.
Jennifer Park, Head of Collective Action at TSC, said: “This is an exciting collaboration between thought leaders from businesses, NGOs, recycling and academia who come together to solve a complex problem in the consumer goods industry and communities. The work is already providing important information on how to improve the circularity of the small format [packaging]. “
“Burt’s Bees has worked incredibly hard over the years to use less packaging, to be a leading brand in our use of recycled content, and to design recyclable packaging. However, approaching the recycling of small format packaging, which represents a large part of our portfolio, requires a systems approach. We hope this coalition will identify meaningful and scalable solutions, ”said Matt Kopac, Associate Director for Sustainability, Burt’s Bees.
Companies are increasingly setting goals to make 100% of their products and packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 to align with programs such as the Ellen MacArthur New Plastics Economy Foundation, as well as to meet at the request of consumers.
“While many non-recyclable items can be made recyclable through better, more modern design, everyday essentials such as toothbrushes, trial sizes for a variety of products, and small packaging for the new forms of concentrated products use a minimum of material. Rather than making them bigger and using additional materials, we hope that a technological solution to efficiently recycle these materials can be found through unprecedented collaboration, ”said Anne Bedarf, Global Head of Packaging Sustainability, Colgate -Palmolive.
Arizona State University’s TSC and InnovationSpace teamed up in 2020 to better understand the system in which small format packaging is managed. Students and faculty assessed how small format materials are captured, transported and separated in materials recovery facilities to better understand the problem and identify barriers to collecting and recycling more materials.
Going forward, TSC and its partners will lead a coalition to 1) conduct a small-format waste characterization study, including a projection of collection volume and scale to estimate economic value and 2) model and test MRF secondary sorting technologies and capacities.
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