The Do's and Don'ts of Using Recycled Plastics in Packaging

The Do's and Don'ts of Using Recycled Plastics in Packaging

Plastic bottles - CC license by Flickr user Global X

 When it comes to adding recycled content to packaging, each type of packaging material and what it's used for brings special needs and hurdles.

With that in mind, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) developed a primer on using plastic post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in order to help get retailers, brands and packaging producers all on the same page.

The SPC's Guidelines for Post Consumer Recycled Content in Plastic Packaging looks at the most common plastic packages for beverages, dairy products, electronics, household care and laundry, over the counter pharmaceuticals, personal care products and snacks.

The guidelines explain how recycled content affects or interplays with performance requirements, Food and Drug Administration requirements, plastics processing issues and aesthetics, and then looks at current levels of PCR availability and markets.

The second half of the report is a number of charts showing which requirements, considerations and limitations exist for 27 different types of packaging like carbonated drink bottles, yogurt tubs, laundry detergent bottles, PVC clamshell cases, toothbrush packaging and makeup bottles.

The report is focused on the United States and based on information and experiences from experts in plastic packaging design and engineering.

Regardless of all of the challenges and issues that need to be taken into account when adding PCR content to plastic packaging, the SPC notes that demand for PCR content exceeds supply, and that one of the main challenges regarding PCR content is the need for improvements to plastic collecting and sorting infrastructures so that companies can have access to all types of recycled plastic.

The report from the SPC, which is a program of the nonprofit GreenBlue, is available for free to SPC members and for $75 to non-members.

Plastic bottles - CC license by Flickr user Global X