The challenge of plastics
Plastics is one of the most prominent challenges facing those seeking to build a circular economy. Plastic is ever-present in our economy, constituting the single largest source for consumer packaging, and its impact on the environment—especially our oceans—is well-documented.11 In addition, despite significant efforts, recycled plastic remains relatively low-value in our economy.12 Any effort to promote a circular economy must take account of the problem of plastics.13
only 14 percent of plastic packaging is collected for recycling
Rubicon achieved a 40 percent increase in the volume of recycled plastics from 2018 to 2019
At present, only 14 percent of plastic packaging is collected for recycling, with the majority of it being landfilled, incinerated, or leaking into the natural environment.14 Plastic that is not properly collected and managed impacts natural ecosystems and finds its way into our oceans and other waterways.
We recognize that some materials are particularly difficult to recycle—yet an effort must be made in every case possible. We partnered with g2 revolution to provide specialty recycling solutions for businesses. Customers order collection boxes, fill them, and mail back the containers to be processed.
We are making efforts both as an organization and in our business to confront the serious threat of plastic waste to our economy and environment. In October 2018, Rubicon was among the first 250 signatories of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.15 By promoting increased accountability and supporting innovation throughout the plastics supply chain, the New Plastics Economy envisions a world without plastic waste—a world where all plastic packaging is reused, recycled, or composted.
In our own business, Rubicon achieved a 40 percent increase in the volume of recycled plastics from 2018 to 2019. In 2020, the economic slowdown caused by the spread of COVID-19 produced contractions in commercial recycling volumes across the United States, slowing our progress. While domestic recycling began to show signs of life towards the end of 2020, our net plastic tonnages decreased 2.2 percent compared to 2019.