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STOCKHOLM: A report by the International Chemical Secretariat (Chemsec) from interviews with 26 global brands suggests companies want to recycle more plastic but the supply as well as information on the content, quality, functionality and price is lacking.

According to Essity, H&M, IKEA, Inditex, Lego, Mars, SC Johnson, Tarkett, Unilever and Walgreens Boots Alliance, they are not impressed with a supplier’s 100 percent recycled plastic claim.

“We can always sell products made from less than 100 percent recycled material – the important thing is that the claim is correct,” declared a company.

Close to 400 million tons of new plastic is produced every year and at current rates the volume will double in the next 20 years. Only 10 percent is currently recycled.

A physical connection, along with correct and adequate information from suppliers, as well as clearer standards and guidelines, is what brands say they require to increase the use of recycled material and move to a circular economy for plastics.

Although there are guides available, most notably the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Mass Balance White Paper, the report says the brands require additional guidance.

“The relevant concerns raised by brands and highlighted in the report must be considered for this market to thrive, avoid greenwashing and generate products that are truly circular,” said co-author Theresa Kjell, Chemsec Senior Policy advisor.

The report says the generation of waste and CO2 emissions, as well as product and process chemicals, by recycling technologies remains “shrouded in mystery” and must be disclosed to brands and policymakers so they can determine whether plastics production technologies are truly sustainable.

A physical connection between input (the discarded plastic waste headed for recycling) and output (the product at least partially made from recycled plastics) is far more important than a “100 percent recycled” tag,” it adds.

Chemsec is a governmental funded organisation founded in Sweden in 2002 to advocate stricter regulatory controls on potentially hazardous chemicals and to work with businesses on reducing the production and use of hazardous substances in their products and supply chains.
 
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