Groups announce global definition of ‘plastics recyclability’

Two global international recycling organizations have developed a global definition governing the use of the term ‘recyclable’ as is relates to plastics packaging and products.

‘The use of the term ‘recyclable’ is consistently used with packages and products without a defined reference point,’ said Steve Alexander, president and CEO of The Association of Plastic Recyclers. ’At the end of the day, recyclability goes beyond just being technically recyclable there must be consumer access to a recycling program, a recycler must be able to process the material, and there must be an end market.’

‘Recently, we have seen many announcements regarding legislative measures on plastics products and pledges of the industry actors committing to making their products recyclable,’ added Ton Emans, president of Plastics Recycling Europe. ‘As recyclers, we are a fundamental part of the solution to the issue of sustainability of plastics, and we need for the appropriate audiences to understand what is necessary to label a product or package ‘recyclable’. We welcome these commitments and encourage others to follow. Nevertheless, clear and universally endorsed definitions and objectives are needed.’

The organizations say that plastics must meet four conditions for a product to be considered recyclable:

  1. The product must be made with a plastic that is collected for recycling, has market value and/or is supported by a legislatively mandated program.
  2. The product must be sorted and aggregated into defined streams for recycling processes.
  3. The product can be processed and reclaimed/recycled with commercial recycling processes.
  4. The recycled plastic becomes a raw material that is used in the production of new products.

The groups say that they welcome comments from the plastics recycling industry and relevant stakeholders.

This story is reprinted from material from Plastics Recycling Europe, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.