Enabling a circular economy
The global waste crisis and climate change are two of the greatest challenges of our time, and the world desperately needs a materials revolution that will help address both.
Brands are facing growing climate and environmental scrutiny from consumers, end users, NGOs, investors, and other stakeholders, resulting in companies setting aggressive goals to include recycled content in products.
So how do brands meet these significant goals?
Historically, the world has operated in a linear economy where raw materials and resources are extracted or harvested from the ground to produce products. Those products are then used, some only a couple of times, and when we no longer want them, they are thrown away—creating a take-make-waste process known as a linear economy.
A circular economy focuses on making the most of the world’s resources—minimizing waste and maximizing value by providing end-of-life solutions to reduce, reuse, and recycle products and materials that typically end up in landfills and our waterways. It keeps materials in use and decouples growth from scarce resource consumption, allowing economic development and improvement in quality of life within natural resource limits.
Opportunities going to waste
There’s mounting tension between the needs of a growing world population and the limits of our natural resources. Take plastic. Each year, 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally. Yet only 16% of that plastic is collected for recycling, and only 12% is actually recycled. Of the remaining waste, 25% gets incinerated, 40% goes to landfills, and 19% ends up in unmanaged dumps or littering the environment.
Our goal is to target these non-recycled materials and leverage our molecular recycling technologies to keep these materials in use by recycling them into new materials. That means we’re moving from a linear economy (take, make, consume, waste) to a circular economy (make, use, reuse, remake, recycle).
A shared circular vision
Eastman can’t solve the global plastic waste problem alone. That’s why we’re connecting with customers, nongovernment organizations, policymakers, elected officials, the waste industry, and others to work toward a more sustainable future. Together we’re creating innovative ways to preserve the world’s limited natural resources by transforming plastic waste into new materials.
In addition to membership in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we’ve joined two organizations dedicated to a future where plastic never becomes waste: the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and the U.S. Plastics Pact.
At the heart of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment is a vision of a circular economy for plastic in which it never becomes waste. Signatories commit to three actions to realize this vision:
- Eliminate all problematic and unnecessary plastic items.
- Innovate to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
- Circulate all used plastic items to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.
The U.S. Plastics Pact is a collaborative effort led by The Recycling Partnership and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Members are determined to reach four ambitious goals by 2025:
- Define and eliminate all problematic or unnecessary packaging.
- Make all plastic packaging 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
- Effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging.
- Average 30% recycled or responsibly sourced biobased content.
Join our materials revolution!
Our experts are pioneering the shift to circular materials. Right. Now. We’re revolutionizing our materials to give them an infinite life and richer purpose using our two Advanced Circular Recycling technologies—carbon renewal and polyester renewal. This takes passionate problem-solving, world-class technologies, and a willingness to advocate for smart legislation.
The time to act—and advocate—is now. Our goal is to transform tomorrow by revolutionizing the materials that shape it today.