Plastic Recycling Industries Define “Recyclability”

It’s one of the biggest conundrums in plastic, whether or not a plastic bottle or packaging is recyclable. Thanks to a new international ruling, we now have some clarity on what makes a plastic recyclable.

The Association of Plastic Recyclers and Plastics Recycling Europe recently crafted a joint announcement in response to numerous companies committing to using “recyclable” packaging. The groups determined four conditions necessary for a plastic product to be considered recyclable.

  1. The plastic resin must be collected for recycling, have market value and/or be supported by a legislatively mandated program (e.g. bottle bills)
  2. The product must have a defined stream for recycling
  3. There need to be existing technologies to process and commercially recycle the product
  4. The plastic must become a raw material that is then used to manufacture new products

Previous attempts at defining recyclable include the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides, revised most recently in 2012. The Green Guides were designed to prevent companies from making unjustified marketing claims. On the topic of recyclable, the green guides stated that:

“A product or package should not be marketed as recyclable unless it can be collected, separated, or otherwise recovered from the waste stream through an established recycling program for reuse or use in manufacturing or assembling another item.”

So APR’s ruling more or less reaffirms the Green Guides stance on recyclability, while providing further layers that ensure the plastic is turned into a new product.

As a plastic recycler, Envision Plastics is excited to work with companies who want to further their sustainability claims by using a high quantity of post consumer recycled plastic in their packaging.

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