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Mixed Paper Collaborative

This collaborative will explore the recovery and utilization of mixed paper (MP). Through facilitated discussions with diverse stakeholder groups, we will cultivate a shared understanding of the challenges with mixed paper recovery -- and brainstorm potential solutions for the recovery of mixed paper packaging. 

SPC Team Leads
Shea Wales
Tom Pollock
Co-Chairs
Megan Robison: Printpack
Cathy Foley: Pratt Industries, Inc.
Susan Robinson: Waste Management

Background

Just a few years ago, one of the main questions about mixed paper was “how do we find a home for this material?” A lack of end markets, China’s import ban, and challenges with sorting and reprocessing, contributed to the exceptionally low price of US mixed paper  from 2018 and 2019. But, like so many other things in 2021, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic turned mixed paper on its head. The rise in e-commerce, OCC supply shortages, market adjustments to the China import ban, advances in recycling technology, and momentum around circular economy thinking, have all contributed to high demand for mixed paper and other fiber feedstocks. As a result, new mills and mill conversions have been announced, and in some cases already built, to accept more mixed paper. 

As mill capacity grows and the value of mixed paper remains high, the question has now become “what does the future look like for mixed paper?”

Objectives

The Mixed Paper (MP) Collaborative aims to bring together a diverse, representative stakeholder group to have pre-competitive, candid, and open discussion about the future of MP. These discussions will start with level setting, explore challenges and opportunities in detail, and finally, discuss areas for potential collaboration and innovation.

Key questions include:

• What new types of packaging can benefit from increased use of MP?
• What are the drivers that are influencing increased mill capacity for MP?
• What are the challenges in reprocessing MP that can be solved?
• What are the levers that might influence increased use of MP in packaging?

The geographic scope of this collaborative is focused on MP in the United States, however we will take into account global markets and influencers.

Meeting Format & Deliverables

The MP Collaborative is a Seminar-Based Collaborative, meaning, the collaborative is designed to bring members together to engage in dialogue and learn from each other. Meetings will be discussion oriented, and will feature members and/or guest speakers.

Please note: We expect all members ,or participants, to review, understand, accept, and conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the GreenBlue antitrust guidelines.

Goals & Scope of Work

The first step in creating this collaborative was to identify the right stakeholders to engage and questions to ask. Gaining a shared understanding of the challenges - and potentially misperceptions - around MP is foundational to these questions. The second step, having identified questions and stakeholders, was to organize a series of roundtable discussions. These discussions will take place once per month at each of our meetings. Key outcomes will be captured and shared with collaborative members before the next monthly meeting.

Photo by JJ Ying

MP Collaborative Meeting Schedule

The first five meetings are outlined below. All MP meeting will be held from 11AM - 12:30 PM ET and follow the same general schedule: 
   • Guest Speaker(s) - 30 min
   • Guest Speaker Q+A - 15 min
   • Breakout in Small Groups - 30 min
   • Breakout Summaries w/ Full Group - 15 min

Meeting #

Topic

Main Questions

Date

Meeting 1

Level Setting

• What is the status of MP today?
• What are the challenges? 
• What are the opportunities?

September 16, 2021

Meeting 2

Challenges Deep Dive: Part #1

• Access
• Sortation

October 20, 2021

Meeting 3

Challenges Deep Dive: Part #2

• Reprocessing
• End markets

November 17, 2021

Meeting 4

Opportunities Deep Dive

• New technologies
• New product areas

December 15, 2021

Meeting 5

Pulling it All Together

• Collaboration
• Leveraging Opportunities

January 19, 2022

Contact Us

Are you a current SPC member who wants to join the Collaborative?
Email tom.pollock@greenblue.org