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5 Key Takeaways from Circularity 22

May 23, 2022

Real circularity can create real change but there are real challenges that need to be addressed. Fortunately, professionals across industries are proactively coming together to work towards building a circular economy where materials can be – and actually are – used again and again. Ball participated at GreenBiz’s Circularity 22 conference and while the panel discussions varied in topics, the constant drumbeat across the conference was that policy is everything. It’s a critical driver in improving recycling rates, innovating collection systems, educating stakeholders on circularity and more. 

Here are five key takeaways we left Circularity 22 with: 

  1. We need action now to meet the goals of the United Nations Environment Assembly Global Plastic Policy Treaty. By prioritizing a forward-looking view at both the state and federal level, we can lay the groundwork for U.S. policy that will allow us to meet these global goals in the future. 
  2. There is no silver bullet. Policy levers such as extended producer responsibility (EPR) and deposit return systems (DRS) must be in place and work collectively to create the systemic changes needed. DRS is the most effective form of EPR for beverage packaging, if we want to achieve 90% recycling rates for our packaging, we need to push for rigorous DRS policies across the country. As an industry, we must keep looking to what is next, particularly at the federal level and not assume states have it covered. 
  3. Brands need to send a market signal to say they are open to new ways of thinking, new packaging design – reverse logistics to get their products back. There needs to be continued urgency and action from corporations up and downstream, without waiting for government to put policies into place. Stakeholders across the supply chain need to innovate and collaborate to address shortfalls with material sourcing, packaging design, and ensuring the material stays in a closed loop system and isn’t lost in our landfills. 
  4. It is not the responsibility of local governments to clean up material waste. So who’s responsible? It’s in the name – extended producer responsibility (EPR). Producers have a responsibility to address the packaging crisis and work toward a vision of the future where materials are kept in a closed loop and are no longer wasted. 
  5. Infrastructure is crucial. And systemic change is needed to address the fractured recycling infrastructure and varied access to recycling across the U.S. Not only is there a need to up level and harmonize national recycling infrastructure, but that infrastructure needs to be able to evolve with the technology and innovation of the future. 

At Ball, we’re committed to doing what we can to move toward a truly circular economy. Learn more about what Real Circularity means to us.