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Advancements in Advanced Recycling
Since 2017, 24 states have passed legislation focusing on increasing advanced recycling infrastructure in those respective states . Advanced recycling, also known as chemical recycling, has been thought to help fix the recycling problems in the country . In contrast to mechanical recycling which is our current system, advanced recycling can handle contamination and lower quality plastics such as wrappers and food pouches . It will also allow for the separation of packaging with multiple layers . This process creates virgin-quality material, avoiding downcycling which is another issue with mechanical recycling . This would help ensure a circular economy for plastic and ensure that plastic is being reused as much as possible. Though the technology has been around for decades, there have been a lot of changes to make the technology more effective . We know that the US has struggled with recycling, having rates as low as 6% in 2021 . If we adopt advanced recycling technologies and work to grow them, half of all global plastic packaging could be recycled.
As stated previously, 24 states have passed legislation regarding advanced recycling, with 3 states passing laws since the beginning of 2023. Here are the states that have most recently passed legislation:
- Utah: Utah was the first state this year and 22nd overall to pass advanced recycling legislation. HB 493 encourages businesses to invest in the building of advanced recycling facilities, creating new job opportunities and lots of sustainability benefits .
- Kansas: Kansas is the 23rd state to pass legislation to have advanced recycling be regulated as manufacturing facilities. There’s great economic potential with this bill with an additional $144 million to support 550 jobs .
- Indiana: In April, Indiana became the third state this year to pass advanced recycling legislation. This would again allow for advanced recycling facilities to be regulated as manufacturing operations and would create more than 900 jobs .
Other states that have passed legislation include Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Washington, and many more. It would not be surprising to see more states pass legislation on advanced recycling in the future.
Companies have also been investing in advanced recycling technologies, such as ExxonMobil. Since 2021, the company has been working on advanced recycling technologies around the globe and has partnered with others to work on increasing and improving advanced recycling . The company realizes the importance of plastics in everyday life and wants to work towards ending plastic waste while keeping plastics around . Other companies, like Greenback Recycling Technologies, have created the technology for advanced recycling and are working on building plants across the globe to increase access to advanced recycling. On May 25, 2023, their first plant opened in Cuautla, Mexico in partnership with Nestle, and plan to open up more in the future .
It’s great to see states and governments investing in advanced recycling technologies to help reduce plastic pollution and increase recycling rates. This technology will greatly help plastics fit in a circular economy and keep them where they are needed most!
For 55 years, Placon has been a leading designer and manufacturer of custom and stock plastic packaging for the food, medical, and retail markets. Placon has manufacturing operations in Madison, WI; Elkhart, IN; Plymouth, MN; and West Springfield, MA, and currently ranked in Plastics News 2020 Thermoformers Ranking Top 20. Placon delivers packaging breakthroughs that inspire better engagement between people and products with industry leading innovation and award-winning packaging designs. For more information, visit www.placon.com.