Two international recycling organisations, Plastics Recyclers Europe and the Association of Plastic Recyclers, have developed a new global definition of the term ‘recyclable’. This is an effort to create consistency in the industry and to guide sustainability efforts for plastic packaging and products.
Industry leaders weigh-in on recyclability claims
“The use of the term ‘recyclable’ is consistently used with packages and products without a defined reference point,” says president and CEO of the Association of Plastic Recyclers Steve Alexander.
“At the end of the day, recyclability goes beyond just being technically recyclable; there must be consumer access to a recycling programme, a recycler must be able to process the material, and there must be an end market,” he explains.
“Recently we have seen many announcements regarding legislative measures on plastic products and pledges of the industry actors committing to making their products recyclable,” says the president of Plastics Recyclers Europe Ton Emans.
“As recyclers, we are a fundamental part of the solution to the issue of sustainability of plastics and we need the appropriate audiences to understand what is necessary to label a product or package ‘recyclable’… Nevertheless, clear and universally endorsed definitions and objectives are needed,” Emans continues.
Four conditions to be considered ‘recyclable’
In order to be considered truly recyclable, plastic products and packaging must now meet the following four conditions:
- The product must be made from a plastic type that is accepted by recycling facilities, has market value and/or is supported by a legally-mandated programme.
- The product must be sorted and aggregated into defined streams for the recycling process.
- The product can be reclaimed or recycled with commercial recycling process.
- The recycled plastic must become a raw material that can be used for the production of new products.
The two recycling organisations have also added that new plastic materials must demonstrate that they can be collected and sorted in sufficient quantities to be considered recyclable. They also need to be compatible with existing recycling machinery and infrastructure if there is not a large enough quantity to justify new recycling processes.
So far, these new criteria for recyclable plastics are being applied in Europe. Attaching the conditions to recyclable plastics on a global scale is a complicated process that will take some time and agreement from other national bodies and stakeholders in the industry.
However, many recycling organisations have agreed that a new global definition of recyclability is a step in the right direction towards aligning the industry.
Original source: www.waste-management-world.com
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