Many companies have made commitments to drastically increase their use of post-consumer recycled content (PCR) in their packaging or products. Take Nestlé, which pledged to reach 30 percent PCR in packaging by 2025, or L’Oréal, which pledged 50 percent. There are even laws taking effect that call for companies to incorporate more PCR, such as Assembly Bill 793 in California.
But there’s an elephant in the room: There’s not enough recycled plastic for companies to meet those mandates or their public commitments (let alone their private ambitions).
And we’re not moving in the right direction. Virgin versus PCR plastic use in packaging actually increased (by 2.5 percent) between 2020 and 2021.
Why is there not enough recycled content to meet the needs of companies?