PLASTICS stands up and says, 'Recycling is Real'

Oct. 17, 2023
New website, videos showcase the people and technologies turning plastic waste into valuable material, as a rebuke of opponents who question feasibility of recycling.

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) has launched a million-dollar campaign designed to counter claims that plastics recycling doesn’t work or is a “myth.” PLASTICS’ new campaign, Recycling is Real, uses video to showcase locations where recycling happens and how it happens, and introduce the hardworking people who make it happen every day across the United States. 

As readers of Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing well know, recycling is about much more tha
n simply putting a plastic item in a blue bin. That’s just the beginning of an amazing process that turns that item into material that can be used to make something else. Far from a myth, it is a very real representation of the plastics industry, supporting families nationwide.

In a recent op-ed, Matt Seaholm, president and CEO of PLASTICS, pointed out that tens of thousands of Americans go to work every day to make recycling happen, adding, “We have traveled across America and filmed ordinary people doing extraordinary things to show it is possible for that bottle you used today, or even the bumper on your car from years past, to stay in our economy and out of the environment, giving it another life, sometimes over and over again.” 

With the launch of Recycling is Real, four videos were showcased on the new website, highlighting recycling operations in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Virginia. Videos featuring additional recycling organizations will be added on an ongoing basis. In Seaholm’s words, “There is no shortage of recycling success stories.” 

Opponents continue to change their tune 

Anti-plastics activists have never made a secret about disliking plastic materials, but
their rhetoric has escalated to a point where they now attack the entire concept of plastics recycling — long an important point of understanding. And even though the plastics industry has announced over $8 billion in investments in new recycling technologies, facilities and innovations over the past few years, naysayers persist in questioning the value of recycling.

Are recycling rates too low? Absolutely. All of us would agree on that point. Recycling rates are low because recycling infrastructure hasn’t kept up with our capacity to produce materials that are in demand across the landscape of industry. PLASTICS supports investment in recycling infrastructure, as well as measures such as reasonable extended producer responsibility programs that would use small fees to help fund such infrastructure. The industry also favors attainable minimum recycled-content requirements that would encourage private investment by establishing end markets for recycled material. 

Instead of naysayers, the plastics industry needs collaborators: legislators who will pass meaningful laws, brands that will seriously commit to the use of recycled content, and consumers who are willing to help by finding out how they can best participate in the process of recycling. 

The Recycling is Real campaign proves that recycling isn’t a figment of someone’s imagination, that it’s as real as the many people who shred old material, turn out new material, or design and build machinery that enables the efficient use of recycled content. Anyone who sees these videos can’t deny that recycling is feasible, economical and very real. Recycling is Real — see for yourself.