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International 'plastics recyclability' definition announced

plastic recycling

Two international plastics recycling associations have launched a definition of what constitutes recyclable plastic packaging in an attempt to introduce a “consistent metric” and improve the feedstock of secondary material.

A joint announcement was made by Association of Plastic Recyclers president Ton Emans and Plastics Recycling Europe chief executive Steve Alexander.

The definition states that products “must be made with a plastic that is collected for recycling, has market value and/or is supported by a legislatively mandated programme”.

It also stresses that new or innovative materials must demonstrate that they can be collected and sorted in “sufficient quantities”.

Alexander said: “The use of the term ‘recyclable’ is consistently used with packages and products without a defined reference point.

“At the end of the day, recyclability goes beyond just being technically recyclable – there must be consumer access to a recycling scheme, a recycler must be able to process the material and there must be an end market.”

Emans said: “We have seen many announcements regarding legislative measures on plastics products and pledges of the industry actors committing to making their products recyclable.

“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’. We welcome these commitments and encourage others to follow. Nevertheless, clear and universally endorsed definitions and objectives are needed.”

The announcement has gained the support of PET recycling association Petcore Europe.

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