The limited options for recycling plastic and reclaiming it from the environment have many people rightly concerned. Scientists are learning just how much non-biodegradable, potentially harmful plastic components have penetrated the environment. The problem is so widespread, that plastic micro-particles have now entered the food chain, water supply, and are even discoverable in the bodies of living organisms, humans included. While many solutions have been proposed, plastic collection and recycling policies have not been cohesive or comparable to the scale of the problem.


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Environmental groups have urged a major reduction in plastic production rather than just a boost to recycling efforts, which have had little effect on the continuously mounting issue of plastic waste. Industrial groups, however, continue to see things differently.  This is shown in a The America Chemistry Council (ACC)’s new push for cohesive plastic recycling.

A Proposed Recycling Overhaul

The ACC’s recently published five-point action plan urges Congress to adopt a national recycling standard for plastic over the next decade. Among the five actions are proposed directives for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to work with municipalities on more uniform and accessible plastic recycling resources. The ACC also advised studying individual raw materials and evaluating their impact on greenhouse gas emissions to guide future plastic production and recycling policies.

Plastic for recycling. Credit: ProjectManhattan

One of the more ambitious points is the requirement that all plastic packaging be made from at least 30 percent recycled plastic by 2030, which is a significant jump from the current rate of nine percent. Accomplishing this would require the collection of 13 billion pounds of plastic each year. The ACC goes on to provide guidance on how to create a nationwide infrastructure that supports a closed loop of plastic collection from consumers and utilization by American manufacturers.

The ACC has also stressed the need to ease federal regulations affecting chemical recycling plants. It has stressed the need to update policies that regulate advanced recycling in a way that fosters more entrepreneurial investments and technological innovation.

Recycling codes on products. Credit: Z22

Continued Plastic Production Raises Contention 

Groups like Greenpeace were quick to condemn the plan for its focus on continued plastic production and the same reliance on recycling methods that have failed to alleviate the prevalence of plastic waste.

What are your thoughts on the issue of plastic waste? Do you think the problem of plastic pollution can be solved through more efficient recycling? Comment with your thoughts.


The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is America’s oldest trade association of its kind, representing more than 190 companies engaged in the business of chemistry—an innovative, economic growth engine that is helping to solve the biggest challenges facing our country and the world. Our members are the leading companies engaged in all aspects of the business of chemistry, from the largest corporations to the smallest, and everything in between. They are the people and companies creating the groundbreaking products that are improving the world all around us by making it healthier, safer, more sustainable and more productive.

ABOUT The Environmental Protection Agency

The American conversation about protecting the environment began in the 1960s.  Rachel Carson had published her attack on the indiscriminate use of pesticides, Silent Spring, in 1962.  Concern about air and water pollution had spread in the wake of disasters.  An offshore oil rig in California fouled beaches with millions of gallons of spilled oil. Near Cleveland, Ohio, the Cuyahoga River, choking with chemical contaminants, had spontaneously burst into flames.  Astronauts had begun photographing the Earth from space, heightening awareness that the Earth’s resources are finite.
In early 1970, as a result of heightened public concerns about deteriorating city air, natural areas littered with debris, and urban water supplies contaminated with dangerous impurities, President Richard Nixon presented the House and Senate a groundbreaking 37-point message on the environment.

ABOUT The Department of Energy

The Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977 created one of the most interesting and diverse agencies in the Federal government. Activated on October 1, 1977, the twelfth cabinet-level department brought together for the first time within one agency two programmatic traditions that had long coexisted within the Federal establishment: 1) defense responsibilities that included the design, construction, and testing of nuclear weapons dating from the Manhattan Project effort to build the atomic bomb; and 2) a loosely knit amalgamation of energy-related programs scattered throughout the Federal government.

Over the course of its history, the Department of Energy has shifted its emphasis and focus as the needs of the nation have changed. During the late 1970s, the Department emphasized energy development and regulation. In the 1980s, nuclear weapons research, development, and production took a priority. With the end of the Cold war, the Department focused on environmental clean-up of the nuclear weapons complex and nonproliferation and stewardship of the nuclear stockpile.

In the 2000s, the Department’s priority has been ensuring the nation’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through science and technology solutions.

ABOUT Greenpeace

We want to live on a healthy, peaceful planet. A planet where forests flourish, oceans are full of life and where once-threatened animals safely roam.

Where our quality of life is measured in relationships, not things. Where our food is delicious, nutritious, and grown with love. Where the air we breathe is fresh and clear. Where our energy is as clean as a mountain stream. Where everyone has the security, dignity and joy we all deserve.

It’s all possible. We can’t make it happen alone, but have no doubt: We can do it together.  Greenpeace uses non-violent creative action to pave the way towards a greener, more peaceful world, and to confront the systems that threaten our environment.

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