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January 12, 2022

TSC-led coalition aims to improve small-format packaging recycling

Most small-format packaging currently ends up going to landfill or becoming litter.

US-based non-profit organisation The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) has announced the creation of a coalition to address small-format packaging recycling.

The coalition has been formed to increase the circularity of small-format packaging. It will use science-based, collective action projects to capture all material types in the format.

Members of the coalition include Procter & Gamble, Burt’s Bees, Colgate-Palmolive, GlaxoSmithKline, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, The Recycling Partnership, Balcones Resources, the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University.

TSC collective action manager Jennifer Park said: “This is an exciting collaboration of corporate, non-governmental organisation (NGO), recycling and university thought leaders coming together to address a complex issue across the consumer goods industry and communities.

“The work is already providing important insights into how to improve the circularity of small format.”

The collaboration comes after TSC partnered with Arizona State University’s InnovationSpace in 2020 to study the management of small-format packaging.

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Small-format packaging generally includes lip balms, compacts, travel pack shampoo, bottle caps, toys, take away containers and disposable utensils among other products.

At present, these materials cannot be recycled in most kerbside recycling programmes due to the screen size used at material recovery facilities (MRFs) for sorting them.

As part of the new initiative, TSC and the coalition members will study the waste characterisation of small-format packaging, develop models and test MRF secondary sortation technologies and capabilities.

Colgate-Palmolive global packaging sustainability manager Anne Bedarf said: “While many non-recyclable items can be made recyclable through better and more modern design, essential everyday items such as toothbrushes, trial sizes for a variety of products, and small packaging for new concentrated product forms, use minimal material.

“Rather than making them larger and using additional material, we are hopeful that a technological solution to effectively recycle these materials can be found through unprecedented collaboration.”

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