Circular Great Lakes Launches to Combat Plastic Waste and Pollution

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Regional initiative aims to drive systemic change through bold partnerships and investments

The facts are startling. An estimated 22 million pounds–10,000 tonnes–of plastic garbage enters the Great Lakes every year from the U.S. and Canada according to models developed by the Rochester Institute of Technology

In addition, an estimated 81% of the Great Lakes post-consumer waste is lost to landfills, including valuable materials like plastic according to a recent report from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

To address these issues, the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) announced March 31, 2021 the creation of Circular Great Lakes, a regional initiative focused initially on keeping valuable plastic materials out of the waste stream and the environment by forging a future without waste in this vital, binational economic region.

“Plastic waste and pollution are serious issues in the Great Lakes,” said Mark Fisher, President and CEO of CGLR. “Circular Great Lakes will be the catalyst for identifying the transformational projects, forming the partnerships, and mobilizing the public-private sector investments required to ensure this valuable material never becomes waste in this region, North America’s economic engine.”

Circular Great Lakes will work with partners including the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (Alliance) to develop a circular economy strategy for plastics in the region, setting the stage for targeted actions and partnerships over the next five years. Priorities of the initiative include driving systemic changes necessary to close the loop for plastics in the region, shifting away from a linear, take-make-dispose economy and materials management mindset.

“The Alliance firmly believes that enabling a circular economy will be key to ending plastic waste in the environment. The Circular Great Lakes initiative by the Council of the Great Lakes Region is an important step that aims to accelerate the region’s transition towards a zero plastic waste future. We look forward to collaborating with CGLR to develop the insights and expertise needed to realise this shared vision,” said Jacob Duer, President and CEO of the Alliance. 

The Alliance is a global non-profit organization partnering with government, environmental and economic development NGOs and communities around the world to address the challenge to end plastic waste in the environment. The focus areas under Circular Great Lakes align with the Alliance’s strategic pillars of infrastructure, innovation, education and engagement, and clean up. As such, the Alliance recognizes that the initiative may present interesting opportunities for its member companies to consider for their own investment. 

Founding corporate activation partners and funders of Circular Great Lakes include Dow, Inc., Charter Next Generation, Imperial, Pregis Corporation, American Packaging Corporation and Rothmans Benson & Hedges. More than 20 knowledge partners from government, academia, and the non-profit sectors are supporting the initiative and are uniting to actively combat plastic waste and pollution in the Great Lakes.

For more information see: CircularGreatLakes.org.

To join this effort, contact Mark Fisher, President and CEO
Council of the Great Lakes Region
mark@councilgreatlakesregion.org