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What Are We Doing to End Plastic Waste?

To succeed, we need to change the way we think about plastics… and plastic waste.

Like many other materials, the production and consumption of plastics has largely followed the linear model: “make, use, dispose.” The result: large amounts of these valuable materials end up either buried in landfills or littering our ocean and landscape.

We need to recover those plastics.

The old linear model needs to be replaced with a sustainable, circular model in which used plastics are recovered and repurposed rather than disposed… a model that not only keeps plastics out of the environment but also harnesses their inherent value to create new products.

So… as a nation and a global community, we need to recover used plastics and repurpose them into valuable new products to keep them out of the environment. If used plastics are no longer perceived as waste – if communities across the globe can create value from the plastics they now discard – then those plastics will be recovered, repurposed, and not reach the environment.

plastic waste management building
litter picked up in the ocean

If used plastics are no longer perceived as waste – if communities across the globe can create value from the plastics they now discard – then those plastics will be recovered, repurposed, and never reach the environment.

How will we help make this happen?

worker at plastic waste facility
  • Icon - RecoverRecover

Recover: Create the Infrastructure to Recover Used Plastics

We are investing in research and development to help jumpstart the infrastructure to recover (collect and sort) used plastics and other “waste” materials, both in the United States and developing nations.

recycling infographic
  • Icon - RepurposeRepurpose

Repurpose: Create a “Circular Economy” That Repurposes Plastic Packaging

We are committed to a  circular economy so that used plastics are repurposed rather than disposed. The initial goal: repurposing 100 percent of used plastic packaging in the U.S. by 2040.

couple looking at plastic technology
  • Icon - RedesignRedesign

Redesign Packaging for a Lighter Footprint

Innovative companies are working to improve the design and efficiency of plastic packaging, so that we can do more with less… and make packaging easier to recover and repurpose.

These steps can establish a circular system for plastic packaging.

Icon - Recovery1 Infrastructure recovers used plastic packaging.

Icon - Repurpose2 Used plastics are repurposed into new plastic.

Icon - Redesign3 New plastic is used to design more efficient, lighter packaging.

To help make this happen, our members helped found and lead the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, composed of prominent global companies, including brand owners, retailers, chemical and plastic makers, plastic processors, and waste management companies. The Alliance has committed to invest at least $1.5 billion over five years in infrastructure, innovation, education/engagement, and cleanup to help end plastic waste in the environment.

The Alliance is working with conservation groups, researchers, and governments to help stop the flow of plastics into the ocean/environment. The initial focus is on rapidly developing countries where population and economic growth have outpaced the development of waste management systems, and on rivers that carry vast amounts of waste out to sea.

In addition, we helped create a global network of plastic industry groups that have committed to helping end plastic waste in the marine environment. We’re delivering anti-marine litter projects in six key areas (education, research, recycling, public policy/litter enforcement, sharing best practices, and stewardship of plastic materials) and reporting our progress every two years. This network currently includes 75 plastics associations in 40 countries and has launched some 355 projects globally, more than 110 of which are in North America.

America's Plastic Makers® are the leading U.S. producers of plastic resin who are among the world’s foremost providers of innovations, which improve the quality of our lives, our environment, and our economy. America's Plastic Makers® is a registered mark of the American Chemistry Council, Inc.