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).
Data from GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition database on corporate goals shows that recycled content is one of the most common goals related to responsible sourcing of materials. However, to date there is not a comprehensive third-party certification standard that has been developed specifically for the packaging value chain.
Sustainable Packaging Coalition members represent the entire recycling value chain. Contextual interviews with members have shown support for the development of the standard and the program has been presented at several SPC events; in other words, our members want us to do this.
GreenBlue has experience working with consumers and the Federal Trade Commission through the development and implementation of the How2Recycle program and is building on that experience to support development of the RMS labels and claims.