Plastics are lightweight, easily moldable and cost effective. They have made many innovations possible.
Canada and several U.S. states are focusing on plastics as they develop policies aimed at reducing packaging waste. Reducing plastics’ environmental footprint requires sound public policy. AHAM is interested in being part of a solution that reduces waste effectively while preserving many of the indisputable benefits of plastics.
AHAM has long supported policies consistent with its 8 Key Principles to Manage Packaging, which are:
• Source reduction requirements must be realistic and consider whether packaging alternatives are adequate.
• Policies must recognize the difference between consumer and non-consumer facing packaging.
• Extended producer responsibility (EPR) policies, which are intended to make manufacturers responsible for the costs of recycling, must give manufacturers the ability to exercise proper oversight without being required to give preferential treatment to existing partners, collectors, or municipal recycling programs during the EPR program’s design and implementation.
• Recycling infrastructure, which is currently inadequate to meet even current needs, must be improved.
• Responsibility for recycling requirements must be based on who has authority, and targets must be realistic.
• Post-consumer content (percentage of packaging made from recycled material) requirements must be realistic.
• Recycling policies must be harmonized so people clearly understand what to recycle and how.
California has also begun to explore bans on expanded polystyrene (EPS), a critical material for protecting large appliances during shipping and storage. Currently, there is no viable alternative for EPS as protective packaging for large appliances, and AHAM opposes blanket bans. Any fiber-based alternatives that have been proposed will lead to more waste, weight and space used for storage and shipping. It is estimated that fiber-based alternatives to EPS would require 20 to 30 percent more trucks to ship simply because of the additional space it would take up.
As part of the push to increase recycling, some jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada have begun regulating the appearance and use of the “chasing arrows” symbol that indicates product recyclability. AHAM is seeking a harmonized solution to the symbol and any labeling requirements to minimize the burden on manufacturers.