ASBC Announces Principles for Packaging Waste System Changes in the US

Media Release

Washington, DC – The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) today released principles to guide systemic changes needed to reduce packaging waste in the United States. Developed by a working group of business and association leaders, the principles are designed to guide improved business practices, regulations and legislation. The 20-member working group participants included Clif Bar, Green America, Lego, Method and Seventh Generation among others.

“To meet the immense challenge of reinventing  how we design, use and dispose of packaging, we must foster broad collaboration across public and private sector actors – including governments, producers, retailers, consumers and more,” said Jeffrey Hollender, CEO of ASBC. “We believe that a systems-level overhaul is necessary, and that it must prioritize circularity and sustainability with the ultimate goal of a zero-waste economy. The first step is this set of principles that can guide the intense collaboration necessary to successfully redesign our packaging waste systems.”

The principles for sustainable packaging include four main elements:

Materials Circularity: ”A well designed packaging system should not generate waste or pollution (all packaging materials should be recovered) and all recovered materials should be kept in use (reused or recycled).”

Shared Responsibility: “No single actor can do this alone — all responsible parties must comply with the requirements of the system.” This includes “governments, producers, materials management providers, retailers, and consumers.”

Accelerating a Circular Market: “The costs of a comprehensive and effective waste and materials management infrastructure should not be underestimated, however they should be understood to be small in comparison to the cost of global waste pollution.” This principle defines several key aspects of how to pay for “what amounts to a revolutionary reinvention of a complex system of systems.”

Transparency & Communication: “Common understandings and expectations are crucial for mobilizing the resources necessary to confront this problem as well as enabling individuals to make sustainable decisions.” Therefore, “everything from innovation to enforcement will rely on information collection up and down the value chain of sustainable packaging.”

The full details for each of the four principles with accompanying rationale may be found here:

ASBC will be recruiting other businesses to agree to the principles and will use the principles to guide proposals for regulatory changes and legislation to enable the system-wide changes needed to begin transition to the zero-waste economy of the future.

The working group responsible for developing the sustainable packing principles consists of: Thomas Oppel, ASBC; Reed Addis and Kayla Robinson, California Environmental and Engineering Consulting; Elysa Hammond and Carolina Leonhardt, Clif Bar; Beth Porter, Green America; Rhodes Yepsen, International Biodegradable Products Institute; Karen Hughes, Lego; Jim Vallette, Materials Research;  Saskia Van Gendt, Method; Heidi Sanborn, National Stewardship Action Council; Lara Dickinson, OSC2;   Brenna Davis, PCC Community Markets; Martin Wolf, Seventh Generation; Jim Stowers and Kevin Gluba, The Sheridan Group; Lisa Spicka, Sustainable Food Trade Association; and Katherine DiMatteo, Wolf, DiMatteo + Associates.