Circularity-focused organization The Recycling Partnership announced today the launch of the PET Recycling Coalition, a new initiative aimed at improving the circularity of PET, one of the most commonly used plastics used for bottles and food packaging.

The coalition includes major companies along the packaging value chain, including retailers, consumer goods producers and materials providers, with Walmart, P&G, Eastman, and Indorama Ventures joining as founding steering committee members.

Increased PET recycling is seen as an important step in advancing circularity, as the recycling rate for PET bottles is only slightly over 25%, and many recycling facilities are unable to handle PET products other than bottles.

Mark Agerton, Group Scientist from Procter & Gamble’s responsible packaging R&D team, said:

“Recycled PET is an extremely useful material when used and reused responsibly. This PET Coalition is a partnership to help provide the essential funding and innovations needed to increase recycling rates and drive true circularity of non-desired plastics.”

The coalition plans to focus on addressing four main opportunities to improve PET recycling, including increasing the capture of PET bottles, broadening the acceptance of PET trays, cups, and clamshells in community recycling collection programs, unlocking new supplies of recycled PET for packaging producers and strengthening recycling systems for pigmented and opaque PET.

By making grants to recycling facilities for sorting equipment and related capital needs, giving technical assistance and sharing knowledge, the coalition envisions a thriving PET recycling system that captures significantly more material, enabling more circular PET packaging with increased amounts of recycled content. 

Scott Ballard, Eastman Plastics Division President, said:

“We are excited to partner with leaders across the value chain to catalyze the change that will get all forms of PET, not just clear bottles, into our recycle stream. Together, we can create a circular economy, leave fossil feeds in the ground, and do it with a lower carbon footprint.”

The initiative is part of the Recycling Partnership’s Pathway to Circularity Initiative, which provides action-oriented solutions for circular packaging challenges. The Coalition has set an initial funding target of $25 million over 5 years.

Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership, said:

“The Recycling Partnership is dedicated to building a stronger U.S. recycling system, including material-focused efforts such as the PET Recycling Coalition. The success of these material-specific coalitions shows us that when we take a systems approach, we’re able to not only lift up that targeted material but all the other recyclables in the bin as well.”

Additional founding members of the coalition include The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, and Niagara Bottling.