California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Packaging Waste Reduction

Voluntary National Activities

This page highlights voluntary projects and initiatives intended to address aspects of packaging sustainability such as increased source reduction, education, collection, and recycling. This is not meant to be an inclusive listing but rather provides examples of the breadth of activities undertaken by product and packaging manufacturers, private industry, and nongovernmental and governmental organizations toward improving end-of-use packaging materials management.


Infrastructure Financing Tools


Closed Loop Fund

The Closed Loop Fund is a social impact fund investing $100 million to increase the recycling of products and packaging by providing zero-interest loans to cities and below-market loans to companies for recycling infrastructure to prove the market for single-stream expansion and modernization by maximizing recycling profitability. This initiative was formed in 2014 and is funded by a group of consumer goods companies and retailers.



Recycling Partnership 

The Recycling Partnership focuses on improving residential recycling by providing grants to counties, municipalities, and solid waste authorities seeking to improve their residential curbside recycling infrastructure. This initiative was formed in 2014 and is funded by a group of manufacturer trade associations, consumer goods companies, and recycling organizations.




CalRecycle’s Recycled Fiber, Plastic, and Glass Grant Program and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Loan Program are intended to provide financial incentives to promote capital investments in infrastructure development at facilities in California that achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions by diverting more materials from landfills and producing beneficial products. Funding for these programs come from Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds, which are appropriated annually by the Legislature and the governor for projects that support the goals of AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.



Consumer/Generator Education & Outreach 


The Wrap Recycling Action Program (W.R.A.P.) is a national public awareness campaign designed to share information about opportunities to recycle plastic film beyond bags. W.R.A.P. is an initiative of the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG), whose mission is to double plastic film recycling by 2020. This presentation by Shari Jackson, Director or the ACC’s Plastics Division, offers comprehensive information about the W.R.A.P. program and the challenges and opportunities associated with flexible film recycling.



How 2 Recycle 

The How2Recycle™ Label is a standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public. Variation in recycling programs, unclear labeling, and inaccurate recyclability claims make proper recycling a challenge. The How2Recycle Label was initiated by GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition to provide consistent and transparent on-package recycling information to consumers.

Product Stewardship Institute

The Product Stewardship Institute prepared the Marine Debris & Plastic Source Reduction Toolkit for Colleges & Universities and Fact Sheet with funding from the U.S. EPA Region 9. This toolkit provides guidance on reducing the use of single-use plastic items that can contribute to marine debris on college and university campuses.


The U.S EPA developed the Toolkit for Reducing Wasted Food and Packaging as a resource for food service establishments to track the daily amount, type of, and reason for wasted food and packaging.


Paper Recycles

Paper Recycles was launched in 2005 by the American Forestry & Paper Association.  Its mission is to promote increased paper recovery for recycling by raising awareness about the importance of recycling, educating key stakeholders about the success of the voluntary paper recovery system, and providing tools and resources to help communities, businesses and schools start or improve paper recycling programs



Carton Council 

The Carton Council provides a variety of resources designed to help increase access to carton recycling in the United States, including resources tailored to the recycling and solid waste industry, elected officials and policy makers, and those within the packaging, sustainability, and supply chain.



 FPI logo

The Foodservice Packaging Institute brings together supply chain partners to work on increasing the recovery and processing of foodservice packaging. FPI’s recovery working groups are tackling this complex challenge by using a systems-based approach and have developed, or are in the process of developing, tools for key stakeholders including foodservice operators, municipalities, MRFs and end markets.



Collection Program Development 

Recycle Grocery Rigid Plastic 

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers represents companies who have more than 94 percent of the post-consumer plastic recycling capacity in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In North America, there is an ever-growing demand for recyclable plastics. Rigid plastics, found “behind the counter” in full-line supermarkets, are a valuable feedstock to plastic reclaimers and can help fulfill part of this demand as well as reduce disposal costs—-and can potentially become a revenue source for supermarkets.


The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) advocates sustainable healthcare products, packaging, and increasing the recycling of healthcare plastics. According to HPRC’s Plastic Recycling Guide for Hospitals, between 20 and 25 percent of the 6,600 tons of waste generated per day at healthcare facilities in the United States can be attributed to plastic packaging and products.


  • AMERIPEN Analysis of Strategies and Financial Platforms to Increase the Recovery of Used Packaging, August 2013. AMERIPEN analyzed global recovery practices to identify strategies and financing mechanisms that are the most effective and efficient in recovering packaging waste and addressing financing challenges of collection, sorting, and transportation.
  • Estimates of Solid Waste Disposal Rates and Reduction Targets for Landfill Gas Emissions, September 2015. Published in Nature Climate Change, authors Jon T. Powell, Timothy G. Townsend, and Julie B. Zimmerman reported that landfill disposal rates in the United States significantly exceed previously reported national estimates, reporting 262 million tons in 2012 compared with 122 million tons in 2012 as estimated by the U.S. EPA.
  • MRF Material Flow Study, July 2015. Commissioned by five national trade associations representing a wide range of packaging types, this report looks at how numerous materials flow through several different types of material recovery facilities with the goal of better understanding how to get more recyclables actually recycled.
  • Products, Packaging and U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions, September 2009. This white paper, prepared by Joshuah Stolaroff, UPSTREAM (formerly Product Policy Institute), extends the 2009 consumption-based greenhouse gas analysis by the U.S. EPA to include “outsourced carbon” impacts from producing products and packaging (or goods and services) abroad that are consumed in the United States. Its conclusions: (1) Production and use of products and packaging account for the largest share, 44 percent, of global U.S. GHG emission impacts. (2) To reduce GHG emissions, we must reduce emissions from production and consumption of manufactured goods and food.
  • The Cost to West Coast Communities of Dealing with Trash, Reducing Marine Debris, September 2012. Prepared by Kier Associates for U.S. EPA Region 9, this study aimed to quantify the overall costs incurred by a robust number of randomly selected West Coast communities for all levels of managing trash that is or could become marine debris. The study was conducted to provide local governments and concerned citizens with another tool with which to work toward greater trash source reduction.
  • Waste and Opportunity 2015: Environmental Progress and Challenges in Food, Beverage, and Consumer Goods Packaging, January 2015. As You Sow and the Natural Resources Defense Council analyze the packaging practices of 47 fast food chains, beverage companies, and consumer goods and grocery companies, highlighting leaders and laggards in these sectors.

Award and Recognition Programs

  • American Chemistry Council Innovation in Plastics Recycling Awards. Selected North American companies, individuals, and government bodies (including schools) are honored for developing new technologies, products, and initiatives using post-consumer recycled plastics.
  • Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards Program. This is California's highest environmental honor. The program recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships, and strengthening the state’s economy. Waste reduction is one of the five application and award categories.
  • PAC Global Leadership Awards. These awards provide industry-based peer recognition for excellence in all formats of packaging, branding and graphic design, technical aspects, and sustainability.
  • Reusable Packaging Association’s Excellence in Reusable Packaging Award. This is given annually to companies that quantify the environmental and economic benefits they achieve with reusable packaging solutions and services.
  • CPSC Arrow Awards. California businesses that demonstrate leadership in product stewardship are recognized. Past packaging-related award recipients include Be Green Packaging, Rent A Green Box, and the Carton Council.
Last updated: March 2, 2016
Packaging Waste Reduction,
Contact:, (916) 341-6449