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Recycled Plastics in Infrastructure: Current Practices, Understanding, and Opportunities (2023)

Chapter: Appendix B: Disclosure of Unavoidable Conflict of Interest

« Previous: Appendix A: Study Committee Biographical Information
Page 209
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Disclosure of Unavoidable Conflict of Interest." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Recycled Plastics in Infrastructure: Current Practices, Understanding, and Opportunities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27172.
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Page 209
Page 210
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Disclosure of Unavoidable Conflict of Interest." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Recycled Plastics in Infrastructure: Current Practices, Understanding, and Opportunities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27172.
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Page 210

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209 The conflict of interest policy of the National Academies of Sciences, En- gineering, and Medicine prohibits the appointment of an individual to a committee authoring a Consensus Study Report if the individual has a con- flict of interest that is relevant to the task to be performed. An exception to this prohibition is permitted if the National Academies determine that the conflict is unavoidable and the conflict is publicly disclosed. A determina- tion of a conflict of interest for an individual is not an assessment of that individual’s actual behavior or character or ability to act objectively despite the conflicting interest. At the beginning of the study, Mr. David Cornell had a conflict of interest related to his service on this committee because he was consultant for SBA-CCI and for the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), a trade association representing the plastics recycling industry. SBA-CCI provides consulting services to the petrochemical, consumer products, and packaging industries on issues affecting the supply of and demand for polyethylene terephthalate resin. Upon evaluation, the National Academies concluded that for this com- mittee to accomplish the tasks for which it was established, its membership had to include at least one person with current direct experience working on the life cycle of plastics that spans their manufacturing, recycling, and commercial uses, including end uses for recycled plastics. As described in his biographical summary, Mr. Cornell was a nationally recognized expert in plastics manufacturing, and as the director of engineering and recycling for SBA-CCI, Mr. Cornell conducted life-cycle assessments and studies of processes and equipment for recycling plastics. Mr. Cornell’s experience Appendix B Disclosure of Unavoidable Conflict of Interest

210 RECYCLED PLASTICS IN INFRASTRUCTURE at both SBA-CCI and APR included mechanical and chemical recycling, testing protocols for evaluating the recyclability of plastics, and market demand for recycled plastics. The National Academies determined that the experience and knowl- edge of Mr. Cornell were needed for the committee to accomplish the task for which it has been established. The National Academies could not find another available individual with the equivalent expertise and breadth of experience who does not have a conflict of interest. Therefore, the National Academies concluded that the conflict was unavoidable. The National Academies also concluded that, taking into account the composition of the committee and the procedures to be followed in completing the study, the committee could produce an objective report.

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In the U.S., most plastics waste is disposed in landfills, but a significant amount also ends up as litter on land, rivers, and oceans. Today, less than 10 percent of plastics waste is recycled in the U.S. annually. The use of recycled plastics in infrastructure applications has potential to help expand the market and demand for plastics recycling.

These are among the findings in TRB Special Report 347: Recycled Plastics in Infrastructure: Current Practices, Understanding, and Opportunities from the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The report emphasizes that pursuing the recycling of plastics in infrastructure depends on goals, policy, and economics. To that end, life cycle economic and environmental assessments should be conducted to inform policies on plastics waste reuse.

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