The Recycling Partnership officially launched its Pathway to Recyclability initiative to help packaging suppliers outline, address and successfully navigate current and future packaging and recycling system challenges that limit the recycling of packaging materials at the Walmart Sustainability Innovation Summit.
A key component of the initiative will be the creation of material and packaging-specific collaboratives to solve these packaging challenges. This new initiative was identified as a critical need to build the circular economy in the U.S. in the recently released "Bridge to Circularity Report" published by The Partnership on October 22, which called for investments and partnerships to improve the current recycling system and to lay the groundwork for a circular economy in the U.S.
“The end of life for a package is determined at the beginning when it’s designed,” said Sarah Dearman, vice president of circular ventures for The Recycling Partnership, in a statement. “Companies and citizens want to see a better future for items not currently recyclable. The Pathway to Recyclability will provide a stage-gate analysis of what changes must be addressed at each step along the recycling supply chain—from the packaging engineer to the consumer purchasing the package, to the end market buying post-consumer recycled material and back again.”
While this initiative is new, it builds upon a five-step-gated methodology highlighted in the ASTRX (Applying Systems Thinking to Recycling) Navigating the Recycling System tool. ASTRX is a collaboration between The Recycling Partnership and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition—a membership-based collaborative that believes in the power of industry to make packaging more sustainable. ASTRX will support this new initiative. The Association of Plastic Recyclers will also be a critical partner.
This work received initial financial support from Colgate-Palmolive. The Pathway to Recyclability will kick off this new initiative with Tom’s of Maine toothpaste tubes teed up to be the first packaging material to work its way through the Pathway to Recyclability. Tools for the Pathway to Recyclability will be published in early 2020. This will pave the way to drive action through collaboratives for specific materials and packaging formats.
“Colgate-Palmolive is dedicated to bringing safe, effective products to our consumers that are also good for the planet,” said Jean Luc Fischer, president of North America and global sustainability for Colgate-Palmolive, in a statement. “We’re excited to soon be taking our new Tom’s of Maine toothpaste tubes through this new Pathway to Recyclability and use it as a model for other innovative recyclable package designs across product categories.”
“The Pathway to Recyclability is a roadmap to help producers ensure their packaging is recyclable and really gets recycled,” added Dearman. “By working collaboratively to connect existing tools and fill critical gaps, we will develop a clear and concise process. This will result in an honest and real assessment by recycling realists of what it takes, what it costs and what the environmental, economic and societal benefits are when we design for recyclability. Let the journey begin.”