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Need to Know

Council of the Great Lakes Region Releases Circular Economy Strategy and Action Plan

EPA Great Lakes satellite image EPA.jpg

Ann Arbor, Mich. – Resource Recycling Systems Inc. (RRS) is excited to recognize the release of a five-year Circular Economy Strategy and Action Plan, which was developed by the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) as part its Circular Great Lakes Initiative, with extensive research support and advice from RRS. CGLR’s goal is to bring a broad coalition, diverse perspectives and interests together to forge a future without waste and litter in the bi-national Great Lakes region, starting with plastics.
 
Nearly 5 million pieces of plastic litter were collected along the Great Lakes’ shoreline between 2015 and 2020 according to the gap analysis RRS performed to develop the Action Plan. Furthermore, the analysis of materials management best practices found that in order to achieve the U.S. EPA’s national recycling rate of 50% in the region on the way to closing the loop and forming a circular materials economy, an additional 3 million tons of plastics with a commodity value of over $400 million must be recovered and recycled, requiring 60% more processing capacity and a stable and scalable marketplace across the region.
 
With data and insights from over 20 leading multi-sector and multi-stakeholder groups representing business, government, academia, and the non-profit sector, the Circular Economy Strategy and Action Plan provides a clear roadmap for pursuing the policy and consumer behavior changes, as well as the investments in collection and processing expansion modernization and end market development, necessary to accelerate the transition to a regional circular economy.

“The RRS Team is proud to work with CGLR through its Circular Great Lakes initiative to transform the way plastic waste is currently managed in the Great Lakes Region. The Plan details practical steps to capture more of today’s most prevalent forms of packaging for new product manufacture locally in U.S. and Canada.  From our work with the paper industry to  achieve high recycling rates for their material, we know private-public partnership is critical to success” said Susan Graff, Vice President, Global Corporate Sustainability at RRS.

“80% of the region’s post-consumer waste is lost to landfills, including valuable films and flexible plastics, or worse, it’s ending up in our environment as litter and plastic pollution in the Great Lakes,” said Mark Fisher, President and CEO, CGLR. “Circular Great Lakes is a united effort between industry, government, academia, and the non-profit sector to pursue the circular economy priorities, projects and systems changes demanded by consumers and required to achieve a future without material waste.

The bi-national Great Lakes region is comprised of eight U.S. states, from New York to Minnesota, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec. The region is the engine of the North American economy, driving more than 50% of annual goods trade between the two countries and supporting some 51 million jobs, or roughly one-third of the combined American and Canadian workforce.

To learn more about this initiative and get involved as a corporate activation partner or knowledge partner, visit www.circulargreatlakes.org.
 
About RRS
Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) is a sustainability and recycling consulting firm that strives to create a world where resources are managed to maximize economic and social benefit while minimizing environmental harm. The firm consists of industry professionals, engineers, economists, scientists, and communication specialists who share this vision and possess core strengths in materials and recovery, life cycle management, applied sustainable design, and collaborative action plan development. www.recycle.com
 
About Council of the Great Lakes Region
CGLR is a network of organizations comprised of CGLR Foundation, CGLR USA, and CGLR Canada. It is dedicated to creating stronger, more dynamic regional collaborations through dialogue, policy research and programs, and advocacy in order to find new ways of harnessing the bi-national Great Lakes region’s economic strengths and assets, improving the well-being and livelihoods of the region’s citizens, and protecting the environment and the Great Lakes for future generations. Learn more at https://councilgreatlakesregion.org/.
 
References
Great Lakes States & Provinces Coastal Cleanup Data, Trash Information and Data for Education and Solutions, Ocean Conservancy, 2019.
 
Adopt-a-Beach Data 2015-2020, Alliance for the Great Lakes, 2021.

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