Next Markets Collaborative

Exploring how companies can support current and future end markets to create more demand for recycled materials.

 

A project of ASTRX 

 

 

 

This Collaborative’s mission is to work together to identify opportunities and best practices for using recycled content in durable goods and in packaging. The committee will develop partnerships, commitments and success strategies that members can implement inside their organization. We do this through:

  • Educating Committee members on the use of recycled content in products and packaging through presentations from members who have successfully used recycled content, as well as outside presenters.   
  • Providing resources to empower members to make changes in their organizations, including case studies from past Committee presentations and companion tools and resources that members can use to implement recycled content strategies. 
  • Supporting the development of the Recycled Material Standard (RMS) by providing feedback as requested by the RMS Executive Director  to inform the final scope and roll out. 

Co-Chairs:

  • Kim Carswell, Director of Packaging at Target
  • Tamsin Ettefagh, Vice President at Envision Plastics
  • Dave McLain, Director of Sustainability at Printpack

Staff team: 

  • Dylan de Thomas, VP of Industry Collaboration, The Recycling Partnership
  • Tristanne Davis, Senior Manager, SPC

Not an SPC member yet? Become a member by applying today.  

What is an End Market and Why is it Important?

End markets are a critical piece of the overall recovery system. They are the consumers of recycled packages and durable goods, turning our used plastic, paper, glass and metal into new packaging or other applications like construction materials, roads and streetscapes, and other durable products. Without an end market for a material, you can not call that material recyclable.  Everyone has a role to play in enabling strong end markets.

To support a strong recycling market, we must have strong end markets. So how can different players along the value chain (from retailers to NGOs to preprocessors) support end markets in their business?

How Can Companies Support End Markets?

To support a strong recycling system, we must have strong end markets. So how can different players along the value chain, from retailers to NGOs to reprocessors, support end markets in their day-to-day operations?

Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs)

Make quality bales

  • Invest in technology to help sort multiple types of plastics
  • Invest in technology to separate films from other  recyclable commodities
  • Example technologies include: NIR sorters, film grabbers, density-based air separators, ballistic separators


Resin Suppliers 

Make PCR material market-ready

  • Work with customers to find ways to incorporate PCR into their products
  • Conduct research and development projects to make recycled grades as high performing as virgin grades (i.e. thermal stability tests, degradation studies, etc.)


Equipment Suppliers 

Make material market-ready

  • Invest in new technologies, such as filtration equipment for inclusion reduction, compounding equipment for gel reduction and devolitizing equipment


Reprocessors

Invest in continuous improvement

  • Invest in improved processing technology (venting, filtration, additives, devoltizing)
  • Provide source transparency (high level)
  • Communicate and collaborate with MRFs on quality needs


Converters

Test material for new markets

  • Invest in the development of packaging that supports circularity
  • Test recycled content to see how it performs – try different percentages of recycled materials
  • Help vet the supply chain
  • Invest in the necessary equipment
  • Help search for additional customers/end markets


Brands & Retailers

Incorporate recycled content in products and operations

  • Look for ways to use recycled content in your brands:
    • Be specific (i.e. how much you want in, what the source should be, etc). Be clear about the vision of the goal will get you there faster
    • Consider what you are willing to change (performance specs, appearance, costs). Where is there room to be flexible?
    • Help search for more end markets in your supply chain, use global leverage
    • Align your goals with recycled content end markets
    • Leverage connection to consumers to understand where they are and what they are looking for
    • Get reporting and information flow with suppliers
    • Share learnings with industry peers

NGOs

Promote action & help industry

  • Use data to drive action. Pictures elicit an emotional response while data directs that response into powerful change
  • Challenge the value chain to not accept the status quo and to continuously improve
  • Be specific about the details of policy

 

Resources

We want this website to evolve to be a one-stop shop for end market resources. If we are missing something, please send us a note!


SPC/ASTRX Resources

Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s Design for Recycled Content Guide
This Guide supports brands and suppliers who are looking to incorporate recycled content in packaging. The Guide provides practical recommendations to inform strategy and decision making by outlining existing challenges, illuminating areas of opportunity, and dispelling myths about the use of recycled content.

ASTRX Map of the Recycling System
This two-page handout describes each stage of the recycling system and how each of them feeds into end markets.

ASTRX Navigating the Recycling System 
This worksheet was developed by ASTRX. This tool can be used to spark a discussion about how to make packaging more effective at navigating the recycling system and identify any areas where there is room for improvement, including end markets. 

ASTRX Review of Material Flow at MRFs and Reprocessors
In 2018, the ASTRX conducted research about two key pieces of the recycling system: MRFs and reprocessors. ASTRX conducted a series of contextual interviews with MRFs and reprocessors in order to better understand what types of packaging consistently present problems for one or both pieces of the recycling system, and in turn, end markets. This research identifies areas where changes to packaging design or infrastructure could benefit the end-of-life outcomes for all packaging.

 

Slides from Past Committee Meetings

 

 

Additional Projects and Tools to Support End Markets

APR Demand Champions:
Led by The Association of Plastic Recyclers

APR Recycling Demand Champions commit to purchase new volume PCR through “work in process” (WIP) durable goods, or other applications for PCR, and thereby play a prominent role in expanding the market for mixed residential plastics, driving investment, increasing supply and producing more high quality PCR. This campaign also includes any and all NEW applications for PCR.

 

More Recycling Buy Recycled Database
Buy Recycled is a social movement about acting responsibly and managing your own carbon footprint. It’s about knowing what is recyclable, making sure it gets recycled in a way that ensures the material’s greatest value, and then closing the loop and purchasing products that are made from those same recycled materials, known as post-consumer resin (PCR). The Buy Recycled Products Directory is at the heart of this movement. It’s a place to see what companies are doing their part to act responsibly and the types of products that are available today for you to close the loop. This database will continue to grow as more companies do the right thing. 

 

Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF)

Members of the Materials Recovery for the Future Collaborative share a simple vision: Flexible packaging is recycled curbside and the recovery community captures value from it.

 


New End Market Opportunities (NEMO)

Led by the Plastics Industry Association
Goal – To determine ways to strip out processing costs to find new end markets for recycled plastic bags and wraps.