Executive Director, GreenBlue; Director, The Sustainable Packaging Coalition
Packaging circularity depends on both materials being recyclable and market demand to use the recycled materials.
Recycled materials are commodities and their market value can vary widely. In the US the cost to collect and process materials at a municipal recycling facility is more than the combined value of the materials recovered for sale.
Market development for recycled materials is critical for creating and maintaining recycled material value and circularity. Recent corporate commitments for recycled content are driving value for some materials, but this is not enough. Not all recycled materials are created equal. Market diversity is important to maintaining value. Our current capacity for recycling is very limited and needs significant investments.
New emerging opportunities using advanced (chemical) recycling are a future solution for expanding market opportunities and creating value. Advanced recycling will create new challenges for transparency, require certification to ensure materials are responsibly sourced and accurately identify what can be counted as recycle content.
GreenBlue has developed the Recycled Material Standard (RMS) to help accelerate investments in recycling and provide assurance and transparency of claims with the support of a third-party certification system.
The RMS certification was built on a number of important factors, focusing on clear rules, definitions and guidelines to create an even playing field among competitors and a strong assurance mechanism for brands and consumers.
Not all recycled materials are created equal. Market diversity is important to maintaining value. Our current capacity for recycling is very limited and needs significant investments.
The RMS has three types of claims. The first is an average content claim based on the percentage of recycled material tracked by the chain of custody for each batch of material.
The second claim is a mass balance claim where materials are accounted for at the facility level and allocated to designated product groups. Mass balance claims are for mechanical or chemically recycled materials. The materials claimed must be used as building blocks for the manufacturing of new products. The RMS excludes the proportion of feedstock material allocated to fuels and energy generation.
The third claim is based on a tradable, environmental commodity representing the benefit of processing 1 mt of reclaimed plastic. These are called Attributes of Recycled Content (ARCs) and they directly support the investment in new recycling technology.
More information on the RMS and ARCs can be found at rmscertified.com. We hope that this certification will become a key driver to increase investment in recycling infrastructure and build crucial market viability.