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Waste Not
Industry Continues to Arm Itself in War on Plastic Waste

A new accelerator from the US Plastics Pact aims to catalyze broader adoption of reusable and refillable packaging options, while an upskilling program from rePurpose Global aims to help sustainability leaders more effectively tackle plastic pollution.

US Plastics Pact’s Reuse Catalyst aims to propel reuse & refill pilots

Image credit: Izzy Zero Waste Beauty

This week, the US Plastics Pact began accepting applications for its Reuse Catalyst — a program designed to support and develop innovators of scalable reuse and refill solutions for the United States. Reusable packaging reduces the demand for non-renewable virgin plastic packaging, and offers a strong economic growth opportunity: According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, if even 20 percent of global plastic packaging were converted to reusable packaging, $10 billion would be added into the economy.

The reuse/refill packaging revolution is rapidly gaining popularity in the consumer product market — already on offer via startup innovators such as Izzy Zero Waste Beauty and major players such as Olay, several Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health brands and TerraCycle’s Loop platform. But industry-wide collaboration and backing is needed to drive a broader shift away from disposable-as-usual. Catalyzing and scaling this shift will aid the US Pact — which now consists of more than 110 organizations spanning the plastics value chain — in achieving its ambitious goal of creating a circular economy for plastic in the US by 2025.

“The Reuse Catalyst aims to bolster the development of emerging and established reuse innovators; and the broader industry, through shared learnings, expertise, connectivity and amplification,” said Emily Tipaldo, Executive Director of the US Plastics Pact. “This program aligns with the US Pact’s Target 2 in the Roadmap to 2025 — specifically, in increasing the amount of reusable and refillable plastic packaging.”

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The Reuse Catalyst was jointly created by the US Pact, Closed Loop Partners, the Reusable Packaging Association and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). There is no cost to apply to or participate in the program.

Who is eligible:

  • Companies of all sizes that are testing or piloting commercial reusable or refillable packaging systems within the United States.

  • Both participating companies (known as Activators) and organizations that are not presently participating in the US Pact can apply.

Judging criteria:

Each applicant’s reuse or refill program will be scored using the following considerations:

  • Environmental — including the product material, the number of possible reuses, and greenhouse gas emissions;

  • Social — including the accessibility, affordability and customer desirability of the product;

  • Economic — including market demand, cost-savings models, and additional value provided by the reuse product or system;

  • Scalability — including the diversity and scale of partnerships, interoperability of the product, location, and the product category.

Selected companies will receive:

  • Access to the US Pact network — including the potential for 1:1 meetings with retailers, investors and mentors, which could lead to further learning opportunities and partnerships.

  • Meetings with all participating innovators to collaborate and discuss progress, obstacles, and assistance.

  • Brand recognition as formal US Plastics Pact Reuse Catalyst Partners.

The Reuse Catalyst’s application is now open and will close on October 20, 2022. Selected businesses will participate in the Reuse Catalyst program for 6-18 months.

"As the preferred inner loop activity in a circular economy, the reuse of packaging products in a system of continuous purpose offers tremendous value-creating potential,” said Tim Debus, President & CEO of the Reusable Packaging Association. “Collaborations across stakeholders and service providers are important elements to optimize that value. The US Pact’s Reuse Catalyst program will help reuse entrepreneurs tap into the Pact’s collaborative network of experts to support their developing reusable or refillable packaging solution.”

rePurpose Global launches upskilling initiative to increase corporate efficacy in the fight against plastic pollution

Image credit: rePurpose Global

Meanwhile, rePurpose Global, creators of the first Plastic Neutral certification for brands, has launched the Plastic Reality Project — a first-of-its-kind education initiative dedicated to upskilling and arming corporate leaders and environmental practitioners with knowledge and experiences to help shape plastic-reduction efforts towards reduced inefficiencies, broader inclusivity and greater impact.

According to independent research by Gartner, 90 percent of sustainable packaging commitments set by global enterprises are not on track to be met by 2025; while WWF predicts that global plastic production will more than double by the end of the decade. To help bridge this gap between ambition and action, the Plastic Reality Project aims to build on initiatives such as the Ocean Plastics Leadership Network by upskilling 5,000 sustainability leaders in the next five years on how to more effectively tackle plastic pollution through on-the-ground educational expeditions, corporate training programs, peer mentoring networks, and a competency-based certification scheme for individual professionals.

“As an environmental finance provider, we at rePurpose Global have evaluated hundreds of attempts to tackle plastic pollution across the globe in recent years — most of which have achieved limited success and scale,” said Peter Wang Hjemdahl, Chief Advocacy Officer at rePurpose Global. “Through the Plastic Reality Project, we hope to turn this spotty track record around and empower sustainability decision-makers with the knowledge they need to reduce bias in evaluating solutions, make better impact investments, and ultimately accelerate our fight against the plastic epidemic.”

Launched with support from Sustainable Ocean Alliance and GreenBiz Group, the inaugural Project took place earlier this month as a week-long expedition to the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, with over 30 sustainability professionals in attendance.

“Marine plastic pollution is a complex reality that can be difficult to grasp, let alone solve,” said Craig Dudenhoeffer, Chief Innovation Officer at Sustainable Ocean Alliance. “This new initiative from rePurpose very much aligns with SOA’s mission to create a global workforce dedicated to restoring ocean health, and brings impact leaders to the heart of the issue to instigate meaningful action.”

To date, rePurpose Global has supported over 10,000 waste innovators in implementing previously missing waste-collection systems and plastic-reduction infrastructure across 15 cities in India, Indonesia, Kenya, Colombia and Ghana; the organization estimates it is catalyzing the diversion of over 14 million pounds of plastic waste away from ocean, nature and landfills every year.