Plastics Recycling Update

Major packaging users hit 6.2% average recycled content

Walmart store's dairy shelf.

Walmart grew its recycled plastic use across product packaging lines from less than 0.5% in 2018 to 9% in 2019. | Chekyravaa/Shutterstock

Some of the largest packaged goods and retail firms increased their use of recycled plastic in 2019, but they have work to do to hit 2025 targets, according to an Ellen MacArthur Foundation update.

In one notable increase, Walmart grew its recycled plastic use across product packaging lines from less than 0.5% in 2018 to 9% in 2019, representing nearly 22 million pounds of recycled plastic consumed last year.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation recently published the 2020 progress report for companies that have signed onto the organization’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. This initiative lays out recycling and other sustainability criteria signatories pledge to meet.

Companies that have signed this pledge together make up more than 20% of the global plastic packaging market, according to the report.

The new publication covers changes between 2018 and 2019 for the reporting companies. It is the second annual report and represents the first opportunity to gauge progress, because the 2018 publication offered baseline figures.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the group of signatories – which includes more than 500 businesses, governments and other organizations – showed progress in 2019, including in their usage of post-consumer resin (PCR).

“While progress varies significantly between signatories, average PCR for packaged goods and retail signatories increased by 22% year on year, collectively reaching 6.2% PCR for 2019,” according to the report.

Below are the figures reported by some of the largest packaged goods and retail companies, organized by weight of plastic packaging produced in 2019.

The Coca-Cola Co.





Tetra Pak


The Global Commitment kicked off in October 2018, and it includes member organizations from around the world.

Recently, signatories in different parts of the world have begun working together through a network of regional plastics pacts. Through these initiatives, companies will work toward their targets while taking regional differences into account; the U.S. regulatory structure, for example, is much different from recycling regulations throughout Europe.

The U.S. Plastics Pact launched in August.

A version of this story appeared in Resource Recycling on November 10.

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