The need to develop smart, sustainable packaging materials is greater than ever.

A recent article in The Atlantic raised an interesting question—is the effort to recycle plastic futile? Indeed, the authors of the article make the assertion that, as it stands now, plastic recycling is not working and will never work.

They cite some statistics that are troubling. In 2021, the United States’ rate of recycling for post-consumer plastic waste was 5 percent, while for paper it was 68 percent. One of the biggest problems is that there are thousands of different kinds of plastic, and most of them have to be sorted before recycling is even possible. In the article, they point out that just one fast food meal can include plastic cups, lids, clamshells, cutlery, and bags—and none of it can be recycled together.

Another issue is that plastic recycling can, in fact, be dangerous and wasteful. The risk of fire at plastic recycling facilities is substantial, and because plastic products can include toxic additives and chemicals, that can pose a real risk to neighboring communities.

Compared to virgin plastics, recycled plastics can be expensive. This is due to the costs involved with collecting, sorting, transporting, and reprocessing plastic waste! Check out the full article in The Atlantic.

So where do we go from here?

While there’s no denying that there are many problems with plastic recycling as it stands now, we at AMGRAPH are excited about the innovative options we are seeing. For instance, one company making strides in recycling , Charter Next Generation, is participating in a groundbreaking program to expand film recycling. This project will increase recycling infrastructure for high-density polyethylene packaging and film, reducing carbon emissions and curtailing waste.

Innovations like flexible films are helping to reduce the amount of plastic waste in our environment while allowing packaging manufacturers like AMGRAPH to develop beautiful, durable, earth-friendly products for our customers. If that sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, contact us today! We’ll show you the best options for making your packaging greener.