The Recycled Material Standard
The Recycled Material Standard (RMS)
The RMS serves as a voluntary, market-based tool to address some of the challenges that brands, their suppliers, and the recycling industry face in trying to incorporate higher amounts of recycled content into packaging or finished products.
Research has shown that one of the most prevalent packaging goals is to increase the use of post-consumer and/or post-industrial recycled materials to replace virgin feedstocks. The variety and flexibility of the RMS is intended to provide continuity for consumers and brands while meeting the needs of the industry and enabling new mechanisms to encourage the use of recycled content.
There is unprecedented focus on improving recycling in the U.S., and abroad. Lawmakers, and both the public and private sectors are considering what investments need to be made to modernize collection and sortation infrastructure. Anticipating an increase in materials captured for recycling, the RMS has been developed to help advance the use of recycled materials. The RMS will serve as a vehicle for brands to track, validate and communicate recycled material claims with a certified chain of custody. Furthermore, the ARC trading system also provides a means for brands to invest directly in expanding recycling capacity and capability.
Evolution of the Standard
Development of the RMS was initiated in 2019 by GreenBlue with support from NSF International and the RMS Advisory Committee. The team has created a broad framework as well as a plastics module, with a focus on resins used in packaging. The RMS will eventually expand to include other common materials including paper and glass. The standard can also be applied for the same materials in markets other than packaging (e.g. the use of recycled plastic in toys, the automotive sector, or building products).
A series of mock audits was conducted with participants across the full value chain. Feedback from the pilot phase was used to further clarify requirements in the standard. This process also provided insights on tools and guidance documents that the RMS team will be developing to help facilitate the certification process.
A sixty day public comment period was conducted to gather input from interested stakeholders. A summary of this phase can be found here. All comments have been taken into consideration as part of the standard development process. Within a few weeks we will add a link to the responses here.
The RMS Framework, Plastic Module and Plastic Material Classifications are now available to download. Companies may begin to prepare for participation, however we have not yet announced eligible certification bodies and other implementation pieces are still under development (e.g. a certificate database and the ARC registry). We encourage interested parties to sign up for updates and announcements here.
The RMS team is always open to feedback and input from interested stakeholders. Recommendations for changes or requests for interpretation can be submitted through our contact form at any time.