We're Creating a New Path Forward

The Pathway to Circularity is a first-of-its kind transparent framework that addresses packaging recyclability and circularity challenges; it is intended to wash away the gray and bring necessary clarity for more stakeholders to successfully navigate and advance the circular economy. It is an action-oriented and solutions-based initiative that makes navigating these types of challenges clearer.

The Pathway to Circularity defines the building blocks to help brands successfully navigate current and future packaging and recycling system challenges, making circularity tangible. The Pathway framework strives to deliver new depth to industry conversations and bring to light the interdependence of the varying factors that shape recycling and circularity. The five key building blocks that make up the framework  are – packaging fate, capture journey, design for circularity, package prevalence, and MRF and community adoption. Within each building block are key requirements for circular packaging ranging from public access to MRF capture rate to critical mass for a packaging type to end market demand, and more.

The Recycling Partnership has convened the Pathway to Circularity Industry Council (the Circularity Council) to assess what actions must take place to help the U.S. recycling system accept more packaging.

Circularity Overview

Pathway to Circularity Industry Council

With the Pathway to Circularity Industry Council (see full list of members here), The Recycling Partnership is engaging 35 senior industry leaders representing various material types, brands, government, Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs), NGOs, retailers, and trade associations.  This group will address the missing and needed determinants for recyclability of packaging, initiating a national engagement around solution building.

As an initiative of The Recycling Partnership, the Circularity Council is a cohesive network with the ability to break down barriers and catalyze system change; it is aligned on the overarching framework and key challenges and is now working toward solutions. Swift action is needed to protect natural resources and abate climate change, and The Partnership stands ready to act and assist brands with their ambitious packaging sustainability targets.  However, reaching a circular economy is not possible without meaningful U.S. recycling system change and industry consensus.

From Technically Recyclable to Commonly Accepted

Through the Pathway to Circularity, The Recycling Partnership will explain how a certain material or format can get to be formally and commonly accepted as a recycled commodity, and what steps would need to be taken to be considered widely recyclable. The Recycling Partnership does not require or mandate this pathway be followed. That is up to the brand, manufacturer, supplier, etc.

Circularity of a Package

Brands manufacture products, we all use it, we recycle it, a MRF sends it to manufacturers for remaking it into a new product, and then we can buy a product made from recycled material. This is what’s called the lifecycle of circular packaging. We all play a part!

The world of recycling and circular packaging is part of what we consider a circular economy – one that seeks to eliminate waste by reusing and remaking a product over and over again. Only through recycling can we protect the planet by eliminating waste and using fewer natural resources. Check out this video that explains the circularity of packaging. Join the Pathway to Circularity initiative to be a part of this exciting roadmap to a circular economy.

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A Roadmap for Success


The Pathway to Circularity is a roadmap to help producers ensure their packaging is recyclable and really gets recycled. It will outline, address, and successfully navigate current and future packaging and recycling system challenges that limit the recycling of packaging materials today, making circularity tangible.

Thank you to our partners in helping us to build this pathway and and making circularity a possibility for Americans.