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Opportunity costs of rPP inaction transcend economics to environment (& ice-cream)

October 27th, 2020

The warm and fuzzy feeling you get when tossing that used water bottle into your recycling bin may not be as planet-friendly as you think. In fact, while regulations are easing, many governments still forbid reuse of post-consumer resins (PCR) in the food, hygiene, and medical industries. While proponents of these rules cite chemical purity concerns, the value proposition of recycled polypropylene (rPP) extends beyond lower manufacturing costs to significant environmental benefits including lower greenhouse emissions and plastic pollution. According to a recent Ellen McArthur Foundation report 95% of the value of plastic packaging materials, equating to $80–120 bn per year, is lost to the economy. 

Encouragingly, the FDA acknowledges an emphasis throughout the US on increasing uses of PCRs, and the chemical industry is taking notice. In Europe, Unilever, and its partner Sabic, recently developed a solution based on certified circular polymers which use feedstock from mixed plastic waste. Over 7 million Magnum ice cream tubs, manufactured by Unilever, will be introduced across Europe with the expectation that all Magnum pint tubs in Europe will be produced with rPP (which, according to Unilever, adds up to 60 metric tons of recycled plastic).

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