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Who’s responsible for making plastic packaging more recyclable?

In the ongoing discussion about whether manufacturers, material recovery facilities (MRFs) or recyclers should be responsible for the sustainability of plastic packaging, the answer still seems to be all of the above.

MRFs have always had to keep up with an evolving waste stream by adapting to the various shapes and sizes of consumer packaging that end up on their tipping floors. When it comes to plastic packaging — some of which has become lighter and more complex — players from all sides of the supply chain have their own ideas about how to best manage it. The work of reconciling these opinions, while keeping consumer communication as simple as possible, looks to be even more visible in the year ahead.

“We continue to see more and more products in the marketplace that in fact are difficult, if not impossible, to recycle so they become a contaminant in the recycling stream,” said Steve Alexander, executive director of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR).

APR doesn’t believe that brands intentionally design products with inherent recycling challenges, but says it still happens too often. Alexander said that by releasing an updated design guide last year, APR hopes to become more involved in the “embryonic” stage rather than having to find solutions after the fact. He compared retrofitting a package to renovating a house rather than building features in from the start — unintended consequences are sure to come up along the way.

One of the more common examples of this type of retrofitting is what has happened with full bottle or shrink sleeve labels. The labels had been sinking in the plastic recycling process and in many cases this was creating sediment and contaminating material during washing.

Research and engineering company Plastics Forming Enterprise consults with APR, brands and recyclers to sort out the finer details of their packaging challenges through testing. Kristina Hansen, their technical director, has worked on a wide range of adhesives, labels, additives and fillers, and the factors involved in these areas vary. Many of them come back to the need for a cleaner material stream to ensure that recyclers can offer a better product and manufacturers can have higher percentages of post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in their packaging.

 

Full article: http://www.wastedive.com/news/whos-responsible-for-making-plastic-packaging-more-recyclable/433851/

Source: Waste Dive

Consumer options exist for difficult-to-recycle plastics

Americans generate more than 33 million tons of plastic annually. A recent report by the EPA places the plastics recovery rate at 9%. Why does so little plastic find its way back into the system?

A cause of low plastics collection and capture is consumer confusion. The SPI’s Resin Identification Code was introduced in 1988 for recycling centers to help with sorting plastic waste. Used to identify the plastic resin in an item, the RIC uses symbols that look a lot like the universal recycling symbol, confusing many people to think it’s recyclable, which is often not the case.

Types of plastic accepted at most recycling programs vary greatly and the instructions delineating what is and is not recyclable are often inconsistent. For example, the term “plastic bottle” refers to an item that is understood to be recyclable. In terms of accepted waste, food and beverage plastics, such as soda bottles, are different than household plastics, like cleaning sprays and their trigger heads.

Program language when referring to recyclables (polymers, specifically) can lead well-intentioned people who recycle to place unaccepted plastic waste into the recycling bin—and this causes problems on all fronts. Complicating this issue further for both the consumer and the collection facility are products and packaging comprised of mixed plastic resins and other materials

To read the full article, click here: http://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/consumer-options-exist-for-difficult-to-recycle-plastics-2016-07-21

Source: Packaging Digest

Plastics, a sustainable solution for the future

Leaders of the European Plastics industry met in Brussels on Wednesday, July 24th to discuss the future of sustainability efforts and the EU investing in its future. Working jointly, Plastics Construction Solutions, European Plastics Converters and PlasticsEurope brought together more than one hundred participants. Opening the conference, Czech Member of European Parliament Martina Dlabajova, Recipient of the 2015 MEP Awards in “Employment and Social Affairs” focused on the plastic industry and employment in the building and construction sector – she focused on the European Commission’s agenda on job growth, investment, and energy efficiency.

She emphasized that the plastic industry brings high-quality jobs to the European Labor market. The building and construction sector is the second biggest market for plastics in the Europe. A demonstration of flooring installation during the conference emphasizes the importance of the role of plastic in modern building. While plastics bring solutions; creating a sustainable ecological line of innovative plastic building supplies is a challenge but an opportunity that the industry can address head on.

For further reading, please visit http://www.packagingeurope.com/Packaging-Europe-News/63944/Plastics-a-Sustainable-Solution-for-the-Future.html

 

Source: Packaging Europe