Tuesday, June 15, 2021

City of Austin helps launch U.S. Plastics Pact Roadmap to 2025, driving national strategy to achieve circular economy goals

Engaging nearly 100 organizations, The U.S. Plastics Pact Roadmap outlines specific actions and responsibilities to realize a circular economy for plastics in America
Austin, Texas –Today, Austin Resource Recovery and the City of Austin helped launch the U.S. Plastics Pact's Roadmap to 2025, an aggressive national strategy outlining how the U.S. Pact and City of Austin, along with nearly 100 government entities, companies, NGO's, research institutions and other stakeholders, known as Activators, will achieve each of the Pact's four 2025 targets through specific actions, responsibilities, and interim timeframes to realize a circular economy for plastics in the United States by 2025.
Launched in August 2020, the U.S. Plastics Pact is a consortium led by The Recycling Partnership and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's global Plastics Pact network, which unites a holistic ecosystem of cross-industry stakeholders behind a common vision and national strategy to address plastic waste at its source by 2025.

"In 2020 the City of Austin joined the U.S. Plastics Pact as activators, and we continue to support a national strategy that will create a circular economy for plastics," said Ken Snipes, Director of Austin Resource Recovery. "This roadmap outlines realistic goals and tracks efforts to reduce and manage plastic waste. At the end of the day, we're establishing goals and making commitments around plastics to create a greener and more sustainable Austin."
The Roadmap will guide the City of Austin towards eliminating plastic waste to achieve the Pact's four 2025 targets:
  1. Define a list of packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025.
  2. 100% of plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
  3. By 2025, undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging.
  4. By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30%.
To support these goals, the City of Austin recently committed to:
  • Developing internal policy to limit, restrict, or prohibit the purchase of problematic and unnecessary plastics, and providing ongoing education of plastic purchasing policy to City of Austin staff.
  • Offering consulting services to businesses interested in transitioning to a circular business model, and encouraging and incentivizing businesses to establish reuse models.
  • Supporting research and development of new innovations in reusable, recyclable, or compostable plastic packaging.
  • Determining Austin's capture rate of plastics by 2022 and setting a quantitative target for increasing this capture rate by 2025.
  • Setting a target for replacing virgin plastic materials with materials made from at least 30% post-consumer recycled content and joining the Government Recycling Demand Champions Program.
  • Adding plastics pollution education to the City of Austin's Generation Zero program for K-12 education, increasing education about plastic film recycling drop-off options, and measuring the impact of both public education efforts. 
The U.S. Pact's Roadmap is designed to kick-start action and help U.S. industry leaders and packaging producers develop a national strategy, advance shared goals, and measure its progress through annual reporting. This national strategy supports the goals of companies and organizations through sharing knowledge, optimizing investments, identifying gaps, overcoming systemic barriers, and implementing policies.
"The current state of U.S. infrastructure, coupled with the lack of incentives to utilize recycled content in plastic packaging, have put immense strain on the value chain," said Emily Tipaldo, Executive Director of the U.S. Plastics Pact. "The Roadmap is designed to help U.S. industry leaders act on the significant, systemwide change needed to realize a circular economy for plastics by 2025. The timeframe is short, and the workload is immense, but if we choose to do nothing, the visions of a circular economy across the U.S. will give way to the status quo. We look forward to working with all our Activators to drive this critical change."
The Roadmap holds the City of Austin and other members of the U.S. Pact accountable to sustainability objectives by creating the pathway to successfully keep plastics in the U.S. economy and out of the environment for years to come.
To read the U.S. Pact's full Roadmap, please visit usplasticspact.org/Roadmap. For more information, visit emf.org/plastics-pact.
About Austin Resource Recovery
Austin Resource Recovery provides a wide range of services designed to transform waste into resources while keeping our community clean. Services include curbside collection of recycling, trash, yard trimmings and large brush and bulk items; street sweeping; dead animal collection; household hazardous waste disposal and recycling; and outreach and education. Austin Resource Recovery offers free, voluntary, and confidential consulting services to help Austin businesses reduce waste and comply with the City's recycling ordinances. In December 2011, the Austin City Council approved the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan, which is the City's roadmap to Zero Waste. The City of Austin is committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to area landfills by 90 percent by 2040. Learn more at austinrecycles.com.

About The Recycling Partnership
The Recycling Partnership is the action agent transforming the U.S. residential recycling system for good. Our team operates at every level of the recycling value chain and works on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs and tackle circular economy challenges. As the leading organization in the country that engages the full recycling supply chain, from working with companies to make their packaging more circular and help them meet climate and sustainability goals, to working with government to develop policy solutions to address the systemic needs of the U.S. recycling system, The Recycling Partnership positively impacts recycling at every step in the process. Since 2014, the nonprofit change agent diverted 375 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, saved 968 million gallons of water, avoided more than 420,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and drove significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at recyclingpartnership.org.

About World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
WWF is one of the world's leading conservation organizations, working in nearly 100 countries for over half a century to help people and nature thrive. With the support of more than 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat the climate crisis. Visit www.worldwildlife.org learn more and keep up with the latest sustainability news by following @WWFBetterBiz on Twitter and signing up for our newsletter and news alerts here. 

About the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's global Plastics Pact Network
Since 2016, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy initiative has rallied businesses and governments behind a positive vision of a circular economy for plastic. Its 2016 and 2017 New Plastics Economy reports captured worldwide headlines, revealing the financial and environmental costs of waste plastic and pollution. 
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Plastics Pact Network is a globally aligned response to plastic waste and pollution, which enables vital knowledge sharing and coordinated action. It is a network of national and regional (multi-country) initiatives which brings together key stakeholders to implement solutions towards a circular economy for plastic, tailored to each geography. Each initiative is led by a local organisation and unites businesses, government institutions, NGOs and citizens behind a common vision, with an ambitious set of local targets.