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Legislators unveil Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act

Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Rep. Alan Lowenthal of California, along with Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, introduced the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act of 2020 Feb. 11. The proposed legislation would phase out unnecessary single-use plastic products, hold corporations accountable for wasteful products, reduce wasteful packaging and reform the nation’s waste and recycling collection system, the bill’s co-sponsors say.

The Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act plans to provide national leadership on the issue of reducing plastic pollution and improving recycling collection systems, Udall says.

The legislation aims to require big corporations to take responsibility for their pollution, requiring producers of plastic products to design, manage and finance waste and recycling programs. In addition, it aims to spur innovation, incentivizing big corporations to make reusable products and items that can be recycled. It also would create a nationwide beverage container refund program and spur investment in domestic recycling efforts.

The Plastics Industry Association (Plastics), Washington, has expressed concerns about the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act of 2020.

“The title of this bill suggests it is more interested in garnering headlines than it is in finding solutions,” Tony Radoszewski, president and CEO of Plastics, says. “Plastics only account for 13 percent of municipal solid waste in the U.S. Any effort to specifically target plastic materials—that after life-cycle analysis, prove to be more environmentally desirable than other materials—would be misguided at best and harmful at worst.”

However, Sarah Pierpont, executive director of the New Mexico Recycling Coalition, says that association is supporting the federal legislation introduced by Udall and Lowenthal. She adds that the proposed legislation would create a “huge shift in how we manage plastic production, disposal, recycling and accountability” in the United States.

Dallas-Fort Worth receives investments from Every Bottle Back initiative

The American Beverage Association (ABA), Washington, has announced that the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex will be the first region to receive an investment through its Every Bottle Back initiative designed to increase the collection of plastic bottles for recycling.

Launched in October 2019, Every Bottle Back is a coalition of ABA members—the Coca-Cola Co., Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo—along with Switzerland-based World Wildlife Fund, New York-based Closed Loop Partners and Falls Church, Virginia-based The Recycling Partnership. These groups say they have come together to support the circular economy by reinforcing to consumers the value of 100-percent-recyclable plastic bottles and caps and by ensuring these materials don’t end up as waste in oceans, rivers or landfills.

Every Bottle Back will invest in collection, recycling and processing systems in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to the ABA.

“Our plastic bottles are made to be remade, and we are excited to work alongside communities in Dallas-Fort Worth to bolster recycling and demonstrate how innovative solutions can make a real difference for future generations,” says Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the ABA.

Every Bottle Back will invest about $2 million into Austin, Texas-based Balcones Resources’ material recovery facility (MRF) near Dallas to add optical sorters, artificial intelligence and robotics to separate recyclable plastics. The MRF also will add new belt configurations to improve processing of recyclables.

The Every Bottle Back initiative also plans to work with multifamily housing complexes in the Dallas Metroplex, where about 50,000 residents will benefit from expanded recycling access, the ABA reports.

Additionally, the initiative says it will invest in the city of Fort Worth, where it will provide cart-to-cart outreach and best-in-class educational materials on how to recycle to reduce recycling contamination.

Every Bottle Back plans to work with the North Central Texas Council of Governments to share a public service campaign called “Know What to Throw” to educate residents across 230 communities on how to decrease contamination of recyclables.

Overall, the ABA says roughly $3 million will be invested in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex as part of the Every Bottle Back initiative.

Rick Perez, CEO of AI

Avangard Innovative to supply Dow with PCR pellets

Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co. says it has signed an exclusive supply agreement with Houston-based Avangard Innovative LP (AI). Under the agreement, AI will supply postconsumer resin (PCR) made from film the company recovers and reprocesses. Dow says this is a significant addition to its plastic circularity portfolio that is aligned with the company’s goal to advance the circular economy for plastics and minimize waste in the environment.

The companies say they expect to begin offering Dow’s first-ever PCR-based linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) products later this year to North American customers that demand stronger sustainability profiles in targeted applications, such as liners, shrink wrap and protective packaging, among others.

In a conference call to announce the agreement, representatives from the companies declined to provide specifics on the total volume of PCR AI will supply Dow.

“This collaboration combines AI’s waste collection and sortation technology with Dow’s materials science expertise, application expertise and operational scale to bring a consistent processing, reliable supply of PCR-based LLDPE and LDPE to our customers throughout North America,” says Victor Zapata, Dow recycling commercial director for Latin America and North America, in a news release about the partnership.

The supply agreement follows AI’s announcement that it is expanding its film collection and sortation business, which will be facilitated by adding a second plant in Waller, Texas, and additional new plants in Nevada and Mexico.

Jon Stephens, chief operating officer at AI, said in the conference call that the new plant in Waller will produce 100 million pounds of PCR from film annually, which is double the capacity of the company’s existing plant in Houston.

In the conference call, Julie Zaniewski, sustainability director for Dow’s North American Packaging & Specialty Plastics business, said, “We’re aiming at having a significant supply and more importantly a high-quality supply” of PCR through the partnership.