Board Action Request
Authorize the county administrator to sign the U.S. Plastics Pact
WHEREAS, 50 percent of all plastics produced are designed for single-use applications and despite efforts to manage the material, an alarming amount of plastic is found in our oceans, rivers and lakes,soils, air, food, drinking water and our bodies; and
WHEREAS, Hennepin County is a leader in solid waste management and has a goal of recycling 75 percent and sending zero waste to landfills by 2030; and
WHEREAS, Hennepin County is committed to reducing county-wide greenhouse gas emissions and plastics are projected to account for 20 percent of worldwide emissions by 2050; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. Plastics Pact is a part of the Plastics Pact network, a globally aligned response to plastic waste and pollution, which enables vital knowledge sharing and coordinated action; therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED, that the County Administrator be authorized to sign the U.S. Plastics Pact on behalf of the county to join over 60 U.S. companies, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations that have already pledged to increase the reduction, reuse, recycling and composting of plastic packaging; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED; that the County Administrator be authorized to sign an extension of the county’s commitment to the U.S. Plastics Pact if the pact continues beyond December 31, 2022.
History: The U.S. Plastics Pact is an initiative led by The Recycling Partnership and the World Wildlife Federation, as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's global Plastics Pact network, which has similar initiatives underway in the U.K., France, Portugal, South Africa, Holland, and Chile. The U.S. pact joins these efforts in bringing together plastic packaging producers, brands, retailers, recyclers, and waste management companies to take coordinated action to tackle plastic waste and pollution.
Signatories commit to making efforts toward the following national targets by 2025:
- Target 1: Define a list of plastic packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025.
- Target 2: By 2025, all plastic packaging will be 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
- Target 3: Undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging by 2025.
- Target 4: By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly-sourced bio based content in plastics packaging will be 30%.
To support progress toward these targets, stakeholders agree to actively collaborate; participate in work groups, grant-funded pilot projects, and meetings; participate in multi-stakeholder engagement and research; share best practices and legislative expertise; engage with residents through education and outreach; share approved news and information; and report results.
The county is pursuing this initiative because more than one-third of plastics are used for packaging, which includes food packaging, grocery bags, and straws. Plastics are common due to their low cost, durability, versatility, and high-strength to weight ratio. Their use has increased twenty-fold since the 1960s and without action will continue to increase.
- Plastics are hard to capture and recycle.
Globally, nine percent of plastics have been recycled and in Hennepin County less than half of plastics are recycled. Plastics that are landfilled, processed at waste-to-energy facilities, or littered are wasted resources.
- Most plastics are made from oil and gas, utilizing 4-8% of the world’s oil production.
Packaging has a short useful lifetime, with much of it thrown away within a few minutes of its first use. The cost to make virgin plastic continues to be less than post consumer recycled plastics, which further undercuts investment in domestic plastic recycling infrastructure.
- Plastics collect in our lakes and rivers and break down into micro and nanoplastics.
Littered plastic contributes to microplastics, which pose a threat to birds and wildlife and a concerning yet unknown threat to human health. Wildlife get tangled in plastics and confuse microplastics with food.
- Micro and nanoplastics have been found in our soil, water, and food.
It is estimated that 60% of the total leakage of microplastics comes from high income countries – from tire dust and road applications, pellets, textiles and personal care products.
Current Request: This request seeks board approval authorizing the County Administrator to sign the U.S. Plastics Pact.
Impact/Outcomes: Joining the U.S. Plastics Pact builds on county efforts to support residents and businesses who want to take action on plastic waste and pollution. The collaboration of corporations, non-profits, and government will bring the necessary stakeholders together to develop solutions and implement coordinated initiatives. The goal of this work is to ensure that plastics never become waste by eliminating the plastics we do not need, innovating to ensure that the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and circulating all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.
These efforts will make our transition to zero waste faster and achieve the goals outlined in the county’s solid waste management master plan. Reducing plastic waste will also contribute towards the county meeting its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.