Jan 15, 2020 - Energy & Environment

A new push for a coherent U.S. recycling policy

More than a dozen trade groups led by the Consumer Brands Association (CBA) Wednesday morning launched a coalition to help craft federal policy that would "fundamentally reimagine the U.S. recycling system."

Why it matters: The coalition includes some prominent K Street players and hopes to create "consistent rules and practices" around what's now a crazy-quilt of recycling systems nationwide.

  • "The United States is facing a packaging and plastic waste crisis greatly exacerbated by nearly 10,000 unique recycling systems," said CBA President Geoff Freeman in a statement.
  • Petrochemicals used in creating new plastic is a big source of oil demand.

Where it stands: Other members include the American Beverage Association, the Consumer Technology Association, the National Retail Federation and others.

  • The coalition is planning a series of "regional roundtables." The eventual goal is a major policy push in 2021, Meghan Stasz, CBA's vice president for packaging and sustainability, tells Axios.
  • She said some of the ideas could end up as legislative proposals. "We don’t want to start with too narrow of an idea of what the final outcome would be. What we do know is that we want it to be national in scope," she said.

The big picture: Stasz said companies working to boost the use of post-consumer materials in their packaging are hampered by lack of supply. They also have financial reasons to want more recycling.

  • "Right now there is not nearly enough supply and that is because recycling rates are so low," she said, adding that more supply would also lower the cost.
  • She notes that right now, "virgin plastic is much cheaper than recycled plastic."

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