As the circular economy continues to gain steam, two new public-private partnerships have emerged, driving the widespread reuse of recycled plastics towards the mainstream.
In an effort to make good on its goal to design 100 percent of its packaging to be recoverable or recyclable by 2025 and to increase packaging recovery and recycling rates, food and beverage giant PepsiCo has partnered with nonprofit The Recycling Partnership.
Less than half of recyclables — 22 million out of 46 million tons annually — in U.S. homes are properly disposed of. Through its work, The Recycling Partnership is working with local communities to improve curbside recycling and has already divert 115 million pounds of material from landfill and generated savings of 164,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases. Partnering with PepsiCo will help the organization expand its reach to improve recycling on a local and national scale.
“Leading companies understand that the packaging, product and service they deliver must be in alignment with their missions and goals,” said Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership. “Investing in recycling directly addresses climate change, delivering measurable reductions in greenhouse gases and water use. Moreover, those investments help communities thrive. Progress is built on commitment across the system and we are pleased to welcome PepsiCo as a partner.”
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PepsiCo has already made significant efforts to cut packaging from its snack and beverage products and working with The Recycling Partnership is a next logical step. In 2015, it removed 100 million pounds of packaging and used 139 million pounds of recycled PET. Earlier this year, the company partnered with Danimer Scientific to develop biodegradable film resins for thin film packaging and in May joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy. PepsiCo is also a founding member of the Closed Loop Fund, which is investing $100 million to raise recycling in the U.S. through improved curbside recycling and materials processing.
“To meet our ambitious new goals on packaging waste and recovery, we need to find solutions that work at scale,” said Roberta Barbieri, VP of Global Water and Environment Solutions at PepsiCo. “This starts with the design of our packaging and PepsiCo is investing to ensure the materials we use are recoverable or recyclable. Beyond design, it is vital that we boost recycling rates in the United States, which remain too low. PepsiCo’s work with The Recycling Partnership will enable well-informed, collective investment in local recycling infrastructure and education and drive real environmental benefits in our communities.”
Meanwhile, the Closed Loop Fund has pledged to invest $3 million in GreenMantra Technologies, a company that produces high-value polymer products from waste plastics. The funds will be used to finance an expansion of the tech company’s manufacturing operations in Brantford, Ontario.
The project will increase the plant’s annual capacity of 5,000 metric tons by an additional 2,500 metric tons per year, thereby helping GreenMantra meet growing demand while diverting even more waste plastic from landfill. The company’s plant currently converts post-consumer and industrial waste plastics, including hard-to-recycle films and bags into high-value waxes. These polyethylene and polypropylene waves, marketed under the **CeranovusTM **brand are used in various industrial applications, including asphalt paving and roofing, plastics processing, adhesives and coatings.
"We are pleased with Closed Loop Fund's investment in our technology and their belief in our proven business model," said Kousay Said, president and CEO of GreenMantra. "We are taking plastic waste that is destined for the landfill and cost-effectively transforming it into materials that add significant value to our customers' products and processes. This investment will enable us to continue our rapid growth and provides additional credibility for our efforts."
“GreenMantra’s platform technology is an important innovation that builds a new regional market for post-consumer recycled mixed plastics,” said Margot Kane, CFO and Chief Investment Officer for Closed Loop Partners. “GreenMantra’s patented process enables the upcycling of plastic waste into higher value products and is directly aligned with our goal of funding replicable technologies that will help unlock additional investment in recycling.”
Construction of the plant expansion is anticipated to begin later this year with start-up of the new capacity slated for Q3 2018.