Eastman is committed to mainstreaming the circular economy. That’s why we’re driving both material-to-material circularity and an alternative economic model. There’s no shortage of plastic to recycle — the world produces 460 million tonnes annually, and less than 10% gets recycled. But securing it all as usable supply poses economic and logistical challenges. We see three main ways companies can help:
Advocate for smart policies
We believe smart public policies don’t prescribe which recycling technologies can or can’t be used, nor do they ban materials not widely recycled today. Policies that limit technologies and materials also limit innovation — and may drive companies to switch to less environmentally preferable materials. Ongoing innovation creates new possibilities, such as increasing recycling efficiency or making a common plastic more easily recyclable. Smart policies can also create demand for more circular materials.
Invest in infrastructure for both mechanical and molecular recycling
We recognize the need to invest up front to ensure waste collection isn’t too expensive. Companies large and small can support well-designed regulatory or industry programs, such as extended producer responsibility (EPR) or bottle deposits that cover costs for collection and infrastructure. They can also support recycled content requirements to drive increased demand.
Companies can also amplify the impact of NGOs with boots on the ground to help communities increase recycling rates. Eastman collaborates with The Recycling Partnership (TRP), which works to increase the collection and sortation of opaque and colored PET plastic.
Innovate to create new supply
This could be a take-back program for your plastic products or packaging, a partnership with companies outside your sector, or a collaboration with local community organizations. Eastman has partnered with Circular Polymers since 2019 to recycle post-consumer carpet. We’re also partnering with Food City, a leading regional grocery retailer, to create employee and consumer recycling drop-offs in Kingsport, Tennessee.