Policies to Reduce Packaging Waste

Overview Kathleen Hutton

Let’s Collaborate to Reduce Packaging Waste

Most products are brought to market in packaging that is excessive, unsustainable or both. Globally, nationally and locally, packaging waste causes enormous environmental damage, and good disposal solutions are not widely implemented. The U.S. generates a disproportionately large amount of packaging waste. As business is the source of most product packaging, it is best positioned to advance more sustainable packaging policies. ASBC’s Reduce Packaging Waste campaign offers a way to gather business leaders’ practical insights and collaborate with policymakers to develop packaging waste reduction policies that make sense.

The Problem:

A great majority of products are brought to market in packaging that is excessive, unsustainable or both. Globally, nationally and locally, packaging waste causes significant environmental damage, and good disposal solutions are not widely implemented. The U.S. is a disproportionately large generator of packaging waste: With five percent (5%) of the world’s population, we generate 40% of its packaging waste. (https://www.usi.edu/recycle/solid-waste-landfill-facts/)

Packaging waste has taken the global spotlight since the European Union’s 2018 decision to ban many single-use plastics. The U.S. is under increasing pressure to do our part, especially given our disproportionately large use of packaging materials. The exponential growth of online product sales has also accelerated the production of direct-ship-to-user packaging waste. Incineration is a toxic solution, landfills are limited, foreign countries are reluctant to accept our packaging waste, recycling is not an option for all materials and is not widely used even when it is an option. The life in essential waterways, including the world’s oceans, is being literally choked with plastics and other non-biodegradable waste. Plastic has been a world-changing solution in protecting food, medical equipment and other necessities against bacterial and viral contamination, but as a fossil-fuel product in ever-increasing use, plastic has become a world-endangering source of pollution.

The Solution:

ASBC’s major goals for the 116th Congress include making urgently needed progress on public policies that reduce environmental damage and curb climate change. Understanding that product packaging waste causes ever-increasing damage, and that business is the source of most product packaging, we are best positioned to advance more sustainable packaging policies. ASBC presence at the national level and its growing body of state affiliates leave it poised to influence both federal and state legislation.ASBC will make a fresh, compelling case for what responsible companies know is “good for business” – and for life on our planet.

ASBC’s Packaging Waste Reduction Policies campaign will explore and advance a number of policy options:

  • Robustly engage federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) to address how lack of uniformity in packaging type and composition seriously hampers waste reduction.
  • Promote policies to standardize after-use recycling systems to increase quantity and quality of products being recycled.
  • Incentivize innovative and increased recycling and reuse with targeted initiatives such as investment tax credits & federal financial incentives for reuse.
  • Showcase best practices by companies that have successfully reduced their packaging waste to motivate other businesses and consumers to reduce, reuse and recycle.
  • Advance state legislation such as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.

Take Action:

We are recruiting leaders of sustainable businesses to help ASBC shape responsible policy proposals. With your experience and ingenuity, we will provide thought leadership in the public square and transform the typical scatter-shot approach with focused advocacy campaigns. These campaigns will be based on factual data and essential values – and focused on achieving tangible wins.
Please contact us about how to participate in ASBC’s Packaging Waste Reduction Policies campaign. You’ll be in good company.

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Support the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act

We in the U.S. discard 30 million tons of plastic each year alone, while less than 10 percent of the plastic we generate gets recycled properly. With foreign markets now refusing to accept our recycling waste, much of it ends up in landfills or burned. Exposure to chemicals found in plastics has been linked to cancer, reproductive impairments, and other serious health issues, yet we continue to mass produce our everyday goods or package them using the material. As business leaders, we have an opportunity to make a major difference in our business practices and in public policy. ASBC is mounting national and state-level campaigns to advance sustainable packaging policies. We invite you to join us.