Recycling helps drive the circular economy

March 18 was Global Recycling Day, a day dedicated to recognizing the role recycling plays in promoting a more circular economy that reduces our reliance on finite natural resources. As we celebrate the benefits of recycling, we should also consider other steps that can be taken to securing our planet’s future, including the use of more renewable plant-based materials.

Many of the products we use every day, from packaging to plastic car parts to yoga pants, are often made from petroleum, a finite resource that comes from the extraction of carbon embedded deep in the Earth. While recycling can play a role in helping to extend the life of some of these materials, some may still end up as pollution, and some may end up as new carbon dioxide in the atmosphere if recycling is no longer an option.

As an alternative, many of these products can be made from renewable, plant-based materials, like hemp, corn, soy, algae, and agricultural waste. These plants actually take carbon out of the atmosphere as they grow. Further, like their petroleum-based counterparts, many plant-based products are recyclable or commercially compostable.

These factors combine to help drive a circular economy — one where sustainable products are in use longer, waste is reduced and fewer finite resources are utilized.

The Plant Based Products Council works every day to support the transition to a circular economy that includes adoption of more renewable materials. Global Recycling Day reminds us to keep advocating for solutions that help ensure a more sustainable future.

Jessica Bowman, Executive Director, Plant Based Products Council, Washington, D.C.

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