Media Mention

Does this packaging contain recycled plastic? Inside the mass balance debate

By: Leslie Nemo, Packaging Dive

March 5, 2024

An accounting system long used in other industries is gaining prominence in the packaging sector, due in part to the rise of chemical recycling.

Mass balance accounting offers flexibility in how the amount of recycled plastics in packaging is reported. Just how flexible the practice should be is the heart of a debate between companies, industry groups and sustainability advocates. 

Though other industries deploy mass balance to allow flexibility in supply chains, the premise is relatively new in the plastic packaging industry.

Different ideas about the practice — and if or how it could be used without potentially risking confusing customers about the nature of the products they buy — were highlighted in recent comments submitted to the Federal Trade Commission over coming updates to the Green Guides, the agency’s guidance on environmental marketing claims. Depending on how the FTC decisions over sustainability language shake out this year, experts say that some participants of existing certification systems might be at risk of a lawsuit from the agency.