The United States generates about 300 million tons of material solid waste (MSW) annually, of which 30-35% is recycled or composted. MSW, or trash, is produced by a number of sources, including residential, commercial and institutional sites, as well as industrial facilities, and is comprised of packaging, food, yard trimmings, furniture, electronics, tires, clothes, appliances and much more. Non-biodegradable and non-recyclable waste ends up in our oceans and landfills. Recognizing that single-use plastic packaging is contributing to the global waste challenge, cosmetics and personal care products companies are working diligently to address the potential environmental impacts of products and packaging.

Private sector organizations, civil society and governments around the world are identifying ways to transition our current economy from a linear economic model (take, make, use, toss) toward a circular design that aims to eliminate waste and pollution, keeping resources in constant use and out of landfills. PCPC and our member companies understand that a systems approach, including upstream solutions for better packaging materials and design, as well as downstream solutions of waste recovery and recycling infrastructure, are required to address the mounting global waste.

Industry also believes that all stakeholders need to be part of a solution that aims to increase recycling and materials recovery in support of a circular economy. Numerous companies, including PCPC members, are using circular design principles to reduce the amount of materials used in the manufacture of their products, replacing them with renewable or recycled content, and designing for reuse and better materials recovery.  

In addition to reducing waste created by products and packaging, many companies are also making commitments to zero waste in operations by using a waste-minimization hierarchy — reduce, reuse and recycle. Inspired by closed-loop systems and recognizing that better materials management and less waste lead to significant cost savings, companies have undertaken ambitious approaches toward achieving zero waste.