On September 28, 2018, AMERIPEN and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation brought together more than 20 thought leaders from across the U.S. packaging value chain to discuss how to navigate the ever-changing packaging landscape and harness innovation and scale to achieve lasting improvements. This discussion – “Unwrapping Ambitious Packaging Commitments in the U.S.” – explored what will be needed to create a made-in-the-U.S. strategy to help brands, retailers and others seeking to achieve circular packaging goals.

“A collective, comprehensive U.S. strategy is essential so we can tackle infrastructure challenges, leverage innovation and scale, and develop policies that support movement toward achieving aggressive packaging targets,” says Lee Anderson, AMERIPEN president. “Packaging has a vital role to play in adapting to emerging trends associated with ecommerce and food waste reduction, both of which are heavily reliant on multi-material plastics that are, at present, not suitable for traditional mechanical recycling. We must work together to ensure understanding of challenges, options and unintended consequences as we create policies and processes.”

As the vision of a circular economy grows, there is heightened focus on the manner in which packaging is formulated, reused, recycled and composted. Consumer interest is escalating, companies are setting measurable goals for packaging content and disposal, governments are advancing policies and interest groups are encouraging bold change.

“We applaud emerging commitments for recycled content goals. We need to drive demand to ensure a circular economy and these commitments for material reuse help create healthy economics for the recycling system. We also need innovation on many fronts including investment in collection, sortation, reprocessing and design,” notes Ron Cotterman, AMERIPEN treasurer. “Contamination of recycled materials continues to pose a significant problem, so consumer education will be essential to overcome misunderstanding about recycling labeling. We hope that more clarity will reduce contamination so a greater percentage of collected materials can be put to good use.”

AMERIPEN will continue the dialogue around needs and opportunities for collaborative solutions with plans to host further events throughout 2019.