Policymakers, environmental organizations and business leaders agreed during a private roundtable discussion that cross-sector collaboration is needed to create a circular economy and reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment, allowing materials to be recycled and remade into new products.
Why it’s important: Creating a circular economy for recyclable materials is an issue that requires solutions at the national, state and local level.
The goal: To reduce plastic waste and the use of new plastic.
Through its voluntary Every Bottle Back initiative, the beverage industry is using intentional design, modernization of recycling infrastructures and education to spearhead efforts to achieve a circular economy.
“Our plastic bottles are made to be remade,” says Katherine Lugar, CEO of the American Beverage Association (ABA). “Our goal is for every bottle to become a new bottle, and not end up in places where they don’t belong like oceans, rivers, beaches or as waste in landfills. And that means we are using less new plastic.”
The idea: We need to work to get every bottle and can back, so they can be remade into new ones.
But the beverage industry knows that consumer education alone will not be enough to reach its goals.
The solution: Leveraging a well-structured producer responsibility collection system can accelerate the beverage industry’s goal to get every bottle back, as well as collect other recyclable materials.
The background: Leaders at the roundtable shared the value of a well-structured producer responsibility collection system that would provide an efficient, financially sustainable and convenient collection program for all recyclable materials, including their bottles and cans.
They agreed that an extended producer responsibility system must:
One roundtable expert explained: Companies need to take ownership of the lifecycle of their products by embedding reusability into their system and designing and distributing with sustainability goals in mind.
The takeaway: Achieving a circular economy is possible — whether it’s by modernizing existing systems to be more efficient and effective, or by creating a well-structured producer responsibility system.