Henry Ford once said that if everyone is working together, then success takes care of itself. Ocean Conservancy recognized this from the very beginning when we published our ground-breaking report Stemming the Tide. We knew the problem of ocean plastics required collective action. We built on this insight in our next work, the Plastics Policy Playbook identifying collaboration as a guiding principle for success.
We also understand that collective action is easier said than done. That is why Ocean Conservancy was thrilled to join the U.S. Plastics Pact as a founding member. The U.S. Plastics Pact is an ambitious effort to make collective action a reality right here at home. It joins similar initiatives around the world working in places as diverse as South Africa, Poland and Chile. The Pact brings together a diverse group of nearly 100 members, including cities, state-level agencies, recyclers, haulers, retailers, brands, NGOs and others around the vision of a truly circular economy for plastic packaging in America.
U.S. Pact members have committed to a bold agenda with four targets:
- Define a list of packaging that is to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025;
- 100% of plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025;
- Undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging by 2025 and;
- By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30%.
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For the last 10 months, Pact members have been hard at work building a Roadmap to realize these goals. The Roadmap lays out a plan to achieve each target, who will lead that effort and the support needed. Crucially, Pact members have committed to report their progress against these goals annually to ensure accountability. Ocean Conservancy has been an active participant in the Roadmap’s development. Leveraging our decades of expertise in plastics policy, we also contributed to a parallel effort to develop the priority policies that will support the targets and more broadly support the transition to circular plastic packaging.
As impressive as the U.S. Plastics Pact’s progress to date has been, it’s important to note that this is just the beginning. Within the Pact, members are called Activators to emphasize the need for action at all levels. At Ocean Conservancy, we are determined to do our part.
Ocean Conservancy was a strong champion of the Save Our Seas (SOS) 2.0 Act which was signed into law in December 2020. We worked with our Trash Free Seas Alliance® (TFSA) to build support for the legislation. The law requires the U.S. government to undertake an assessment of new markets for recycled plastic by the end of this year. The act mandates a follow-on study by the end of 2022 on the technological and economic feasibility of recycled content standards. Ocean Conservancy, in consultation with the TFSA, recently launched new research to provide a robust technical analysis that will inform this effort and to support the broader goals of the U.S. Plastics Pact. As we start our journey, we challenge all Activators to ask what they can do to realize our joint vision.