WASHINGTON, DC — The American Bakers Association (ABA), American Society of Baking (ASB) and Retail Bakers of America (RBA) joined forces to host the 2024 Bakers Fly-In and Policy Summit June 11-13 in Washington, DC.

During the “Plastics Pact: Working Together to End Waste” policy session, Emily Tipaldo, director for US Plastics Pact, discussed the importance of collaboration and design for recyclability in reducing plastic waste.

US Plastics Pact is a 501c3 non-profit organization that works towards keeping plastics, particularly plastics used in packaging, in the economy and out of the environment. It encompasses the entire plastics packaging value chain, from resin materials suppliers to corporate plastic producers. Currently, 132 companies and organizations participate in the US Plastics Pact.


Evolution of measuring packaging sustainability

­Tipaldo identified four target goals aimed toward reducing problematic practices in today’s system. 

“First, we need to focus on better design of the packaging or delivery systems that we’re using for the products in the US,” she explained. “We need to help. We know we can’t do it alone, but we can help bolster the recovery.”

The second target focuses on recycling, particularly recycling greater amounts of nationally produced and marketed products, while the third and fourth goals focus on putting post-consumer recycled content back into primary, secondary and tertiary packaging.

“Distribution chain packaging and logistics packaging are within our scope,” Tipaldo said. “It’s not just about what the end consumer touches and feels. There are a few different points of intervention.”

Currently, the recyclability assessment includes the materials used for the product, the label and the closure as a whole. This is different than how other materiality assessments are happening, which are often on an as-procured basis.

“That’s a very different assessment,” Tipaldo clarified. “That’s a big change we’ve worked with our members on, and it’s something we anticipate seeing as part of some of the packaging legislation that’s happening across the US.”

“For the awareness to be far and wide, we feel strongly about making all of our tools and materials open to whomever because we want that broader change to happen.” — Emily Tipaldo | director | US Plastics Pact


Shifting industry material designs

The US Plastics Pact works with various trade groups to tackle these issues in their relative industries. Specifically, Tipaldo recognized the Beverage Association, Consumer Brands Association and Food Industry Association. However, Tipaldo is ambitious for more groups to become involved.

“We would love if companies are motivated to join us, but we know how to make progress,” she stated. “For the awareness to be far and wide, we feel strongly about making all of our tools and materials open to whomever because we want that broader change to happen.”

Tipaldo noted opportunities for packaging suppliers to reinvigorate their materials.

“We’re trying to get companies to move away from, or redesign, multi-material laminate structures, like stand-up pouches, to ones that are in a recyclable format,” she explained.

The Plastics Pact provides clarity on the modifications that can be made to manufacturing lines, and Tipaldo noted that a total overhaul of current lines is rarely needed.

“We’re doubling down on elements of reduction, looking at reuse and trying to first look on the distribution side where efficiencies can be made,” Tipaldo said. “We work very closely with the Reusable Packaging Association and focus on design for that outcome that we’d like to see.”

With the organization’s bottom-up approach, the activity happens within the working groups. The Plastics Pact balances the voices participating across the value chain so no one particular brand or retailer has a heavier influence.

“The Pact group knows we need to aim for better outcomes in terms of less plastic waste and better design for materials,” she concluded.