This summer, the newly formed U.S. Plastics Pact unveiled its national strategy to achieve 2025 circular economy goals using collaboration and accountability. There are over 100 activators including brand owners, retail, research entities, NGOs, universities, and state and local governments part of the pact.
The U.S. Pact was formally launched in August 2020 by The Recycling Partnership and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact Network. Revealed on June 15, the Pact’s strategy “Roadmap to 2025” targets four key goals:
- Define a list of packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025.
- 100 percent of plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
- Undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50 percent of plastic packaging by 2025.
- And an average of 30% recycled content or responsibly sourced biobased content by 2025.
“Everyone that's participating with the Pact — regardless of what type of organization they are — we are in agreement that we are going to work both as an individual company or organization toward meeting these goals as well as together as the Pact,” said Emily Tipaldo, executive director of The U.S. Plastics Pact. “We're all here because we're working toward these four things so we can always come back to that.”
As the Pact grows, companies across the plastics packaging value chain — including supermarket retailers — are encouraged to join.
Tipaldo pointed out that the Pact has accountability built into it. While the Pact is a voluntary effort, companies and organizations that are part of the Pact are required to submit annual reporting that outlines the entity's efforts toward the Pact’s four goals.
Each activator of the Pact has a slightly different role depending on the nature of their company or organization. A packaging company like the packaging closure tab supplier, Kwik Lok, might look at what they can do in terms of innovation and working toward making their products more sustainable. Meanwhile, a grocery retailer might take an approach that ensures they are working with suppliers and selling products that help meet sustainability goals.
“Are there benefits that they can offer certain suppliers if suppliers are meeting sustainability performance goals to incentivize more work in this area to reduce carbon emissions to make materials more circular?” Tipaldo suggested retailers think on this question to form their approach to the Pact. “Are there things they can do to incentivize suppliers and exert their power they have in the marketplace to help push some of these changes and innovations forward?”
Tipaldo noted that the Pact is underrepresented in the fresh food segment and could benefit from more members familiar with the challenges and importance of finding the proper packaging to preserve and transport food, while also adhering to sustainability concerns.
The goals of the Pact are designed to benefit both the environment and Pact participants. Because each participating entity is required to submit annual reporting and come to the table with other members of the Pact, members have access to better communication between buyers and suppliers.
“It really helps to bring everybody to the same table, to quell misconceptions or get very realistic about what the different challenges are and why companies make decisions that they do and where the roadblocks are,” Tipaldo said.
“Rather than just having a retailer make a pronouncement that they want X to happen without really understanding what some of those implications could be, having that dialogue with their suppliers and figuring out what our interim solutions could be.”
With this design, members of the Pact can ensure they are truly working toward the same goals and executing real systemic change.
For Karen Reed, Kwik Lok’s global director of marketing and communications, being a member of the U.S. Plastics Pact has helped the company learn from and strengthen its relationships with other like-minded companies and customers.
“It gives us things we can think about and changes the way we look at problems we’re trying to solve,” Reed said. “We’re all going to give and we’re all going to get. The concept of moving forward is really what this is all about—creating common language by working together on common understanding of our goals that we can take to our respective stakeholders and begin to create more commonality.”
Being part of the Pact is a way for companies and organizations to make progress toward the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment; benefit from the knowledge of other organizations; advise on national goals, roadmaps and outcomes; drive better coordination of activities to maximize current and future investment; and be recognized as a leader in support of U.S. Plastics Pact goals.
“Companies that are participating with the Pact should be really proud of the commitment that they've made,” Tipaldo said. “For so many years now, a lot of companies have made sustainability commitments, and not very many of them have been held accountable. We want companies to make sincere commitments and make changes and for our customers — whoever those are, wherever they sit in the value chain — to hold us all accountable.”
To learn more about joining the U.S. Plastic Pact visit the Pact here.
Visit Kwik Lok’s suite of sustainability resources and learning tools here, and watch the video below.