Plastics Industry Association Attempts Another PR Campaign to Spin Failed Recycling System

Beyond Plastics Calls for Reduction in Plastic Production, Urges Public Not to Fall for More Misinformation From Plastics Producers

For Immediate Release: September 14, 2023


Today, the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), a trade association representing the plastics industry, launched what it refers to as a “new advocacy campaign” called “Recycling Is Real,” defending plastics recycling — a system that has failed for 50 years, with the United States’ plastics recycling rate currently hovering below 6%

The trade association claims its motivation behind this campaign is to “put an end to false narratives claiming that recycling doesn’t happen or is a ‘myth.’” This is the same campaign that industry has fed to the public for decades despite the fact that the plastics industry was aware that plastics recycling would never work back in the 1970s.

"This cynical new public relations campaign is not based on facts or what is happening in the real world,” said Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics and former regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Year after year, plastics recycling has been an abysmal failure, clocking in at well under 10% recycling rate. I strongly support recycling; but plastic, as a material, is mostly not recyclable. Unlike materials like paper and metal and glass, there are many different types of plastic resins, thousands of different chemical additives, and many different colorants, making it very hard to recycle. The plastics industry knows that most plastics are not recyclable, and it is unfortunate that it continues to peddle the big lie.”

Beyond Plastics released a report announcing the dropping U.S. plastics recycling rate in May 2022 (found here). 

“There is nothing new here,” said Melissa Valliant, Beyond Plastics communications director. “We’re hearing a broken record from the petrochemical and plastics industries, which are intent on hailing recycling as a panacea to the plastic pollution crisis despite the fact that only 9% of the plastic ever generated has been recycled. Big Oil and Big Plastic know perfectly well that recycling has failed for half a century and nonetheless will continue to promote this failed system — they just don’t have another leg to stand on as the public slowly realizes the truth, so they’re reiterating the same false narrative over and over again in the hope that policymakers and consumers soak it up and ignore the one true solution to the environmental and human health crisis posed by plastic: We need to stop producing so much of it.”

About Beyond Plastics

Launched in 2019, Beyond Plastics is a nationwide project that pairs the wisdom and experience of environmental policy experts with the energy and creativity of grassroots advocates to build a vibrant and effective movement to end plastic pollution and promote alternatives to plastics. Using deep policy and advocacy expertise, Beyond Plastics is building a well-informed, effective movement seeking to achieve the institutional, economic, and societal changes needed to save our planet and ourselves, from the negative health, climate, and environmental impacts for the production, usage, and disposal of plastics.


48 Organizations Urge the Lockport, NY, Industrial Development Agency to Reject Using Public Subsidies to Produce Single-Use Plastics