Thu April 19, 2018

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) committed to a Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) policy today, releasing a policy statement that codifies the organization’s support of SMM principles. SMM policy suggests a way forward for the plastics industry and endorses a systemic solution to the challenge of using, and reusing, materials more productively over their entire life cycle.

PLASTICS’ SMM statement, which was overwhelmingly approved by the association’s leadership, reads:

Taking a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire lifecycles affords the opportunity to improve environmental outcomes, conserve resources and reduce costs. Accordingly, PLASTICS embraces Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) as a framework to evaluate resource usage during the design, manufacture, use and recovery of plastic products and packaging. PLASTICS recognizes the value of Circular Economy principles when circularity of materials yields the greatest environmental benefit over a product’s lifecycle. In making this assessment, however, PLASTICS advocates for the use of SMM as a guiding policy principle, one which considers the entire ecosystem of the product, and prioritizes the use of materials and processes that consider total energy and resource inputs throughout the entire lifecycle of a product, and minimizes associated waste. SMM’s holistic approach achieves this goal by measuring metrics like greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and transportation efficiencies for different materials, and comparing their advantages while meeting economic, social and environmental requirements.

“Every material carries some environmental impact,” said PLASTICS Vice President of Sustainability, Kim Holmes. “But through a life-cycle analysis approach, we find that, in so many instances, plastics are the most efficient and sustainable choice, particularly when the plastics are recovered and their value can continue to be realized. The SMM approach represents the smartest way forward for the industry, the environment and the economy, and we look forward to using it as a blueprint for how we can continue to make a positive impact.”

“PLASTICS has always advocated that consumers, businesses and policymakers look at the entire life-cycle before assessing the superiority of one material over another,” said PLASTICS Vice President of Government Affairs Scott DeFife. “PLASTICS’ SMM statement sets a path for the plastics industry to follow as we work to find new ways where plastics can solve new and existing environmental problems.”

The statement comes on the heels of PLASTICS’ sustainability statement, released earlier this year, representing the industry community’s commitment to sustainability and the environmental solutions that are possible through the use of plastic materials and products.

In addition to the release of the statement, PLASTICS is participating in Earth Day in a number of other ways. On Wednesday, April 18 it hosted a Twitter Chat with several plastics and recycling experts. The organization also announced its ambitious waste diversion goals for NPE2018, which is expected to be one of the largest trade shows hosted in North America this year. Lastly, PLASTICS outlined its goals to increase access to recycling earlier this month advocating for policymakers to make recycling and waste management a priority in improving America’s infrastructure.

Learn more about PLASTICS’ recycling and sustainability initiatives here.