Assess the Circularity of Your Package

The Circular Packaging Assessment Tool provides step-by-step instructions to help companies to understand and evaluate packaging within the Residential* Recyclability Framework, identifying challenges that must be addressed to achieve the circular system of the future.

*Residential refers to curbside recycling and municipal drop-off services provided for both single and multifamily.

Access the Tool

The Residential Recyclability Framework is the first element of the Pathway to Circularity to be developed. The Framework strives to deliver new depth on the varying factors that shape recycling. The Framework will help companies determine if their package can navigate the recycling system and provide them with the necessary actions to advance their packaging toward recyclability and meet their sustainability goals.

The Framework roots the industry in reality while pushing toward a more innovative and circular future by assessing recyclability through a series of “building blocks” or criteria that a package must meet to be considered recyclable. The Framework is a living document, evolving over time as necessary, to meet the needs of a growing recycling system while still providing stability for long-term decisions. For example, The Partnership opened the Framework to public comment for a period of 30 days in late 2021; feedback was incorporated into the building blocks of the Circular Packaging Assessment Tool.

See an overview of the Framework

What is the Pathway to Circularity: Residential Recyclability Framework and how is it different from existing frameworks?

The Framework, created through the Pathway to Circularity initiative, is a first-of-its-kind opportunity for the entire recycling value chain to assist in the process of determining recyclability. It defines five building blocks critical to progressing packaging design for recyclability  – design for recyclability, recyclability prevalence, access and adoption, capture journey, and packaging fate, along with key requirements within each block. The Framework is an important tool in transforming the recycling system by aligning stakeholders behind the steps needed to evolve the packaging that is going into it.

Making packaging recyclable is complex, and isn’t something one organization can do alone. Guidelines are needed to support the development process; currently there are no transparent industry-wide guidelines in place. The Framework aims to fill that gap.

We see a critical role for the Framework going forward in:

  • Shaping package design
  • Helping policymakers by defining what is recyclable
  • Informing recyclability claims
  • Driving new innovations

Why did you host a Public Comment Period?

The goal of the public comment period from August 19 – September 17, 2021 was to get the broadest possible stakeholder input and progress the Framework in partnership with the whole industry: we want to build it together. During the stakeholder engagement period, comments submitted online were collected for review.

Thank you to all of those who participated in this process. You can read a summary of our responses here.

What’s next for the Framework?

This is a living Framework, the contents of which will continue to evolve with changing market conditions, advances in technology, etc. Planned upcoming developments include:

  • Launching a fully digital version of the Circular Packaging Assessment Tool
  • Introduction of an “on-ramp” for innovative packages
  • Introduction of material health elements into design for recyclability
  • Update assessment information based on the launch of The Recycling Partnership’s National Database
  • Evolve the definition of recycling access to account for greater equity
  • And more!

Where can I view the Framework?

Please refer to the Circular Packaging Assessment Tool to view the Framework in detail. An in-depth discussion of the Framework, including an overview of the building blocks and criteria, can be found in the Pathway to Circularity recording.

How can I get more involved with The Partnership and further development of the Pathway?

Reach out to to discuss partnership opportunities. Stay up-to-date on the Pathway development by joining the Pathway to Circularity mailing list. Follow The Partnership on social media to learn more about what we’re doing to accelerate recycling and circularity in the U.S.