Meeting Your Corporate Circularity Commitments: Welcome to the Age of Advanced Recycling

Jay Owen Resource Efficiency, Beyond GDP 0 Comments

We believe that the solution to stopping plastic waste is understanding that the material is too valuable to be lost in landfills. We can change what is traditionally considered waste and transform it into a valuable, sustainable resource through advanced recycling.

If you ask the average American what advanced recycling is, chances are they won’t know the answer. Most people’s understanding of recycling stems from that one lesson they had in elementary school — the reduce, reuse, recycle refrain — and that’s it. This lack of understanding results in widespread, incorrect use of the service — as people don’t know what can be recycled and how to recycle it. In fact, a recent survey of 2,000 US consumers revealed that 62 percent of people felt a lack of knowledge was causing them to recycle incorrectly.

For a non-technical brand leader, the ability to explain what your company is doing to limit waste is critical to meeting mounting consumer expectations around sustainability. As the world watches for action on sustainability following COP26, companies should seize the opportunity to educate their customers and showcase the steps they are taking to limit waste, increase circularity and use more recycled content in products and packaging.

First things first: What is advanced recycling?

That ubiquitous elementary school lesson on recycling generally dealt with traditional or mechanical recycling. Mechanical recycling for plastics involves sorting items by plastic type, washing them, grinding and melting them down, and re-granulating and compounding the material to replace “virgin” plastics in the production of new products — such as yarn, fibers and building materials. This form of recycling is incredibly important and greatly reduces the environmental footprint of product manufacturing. That said, it can only be used for specific kinds of plastic, leaving many products at risk of being wasted and dumped into landfills or the environment if it is not paired with other recycling processes. Continue reading

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