Is plastic 100% recyclable?sandra
Plastic and plastic packaging have been a hot topic for years. We see discussions on social media with the hashtags #plasticsoup, #plasticwaste and #zerowaste. As a supplier of plastic packaging, we are happy to participate in this discussion. Just like you we are in favor of increasing recyclability and increasing consumer awareness as well.
To understand whether a packaging is 100% recyclable, it is important to know what happens to the plastic packaging after you throw it in the plastic waste bin. Even if (part of) the packaging is recyclable, incorrect disposal can turn a recyclable packaging into a non-recyclable packaging. As a result it ends up in the incinerator anyway.
Recycling in a nutshell
Once the contents of the plastic packaging have been used up, you can dispose of it in the plastic waste container. After the plastic waste has been collected by the waste processor, the contents of the garbage truck are emptied onto a sorting belt. A special scanner (NIR scanner) then scans all products on the sorting belt. Waste made from non-recyclable material or waste that is indefinable (due to the use of different materials) is not recyclable and ends up in the incinerator.
Waste made from recyclable mono material (for example polypropylene) is pre-sorted and ends up on the ‘fully recyclable’ belt. This waste is processed into a renewed raw material (eg granulate) and this raw material is then used to manufacture new products.
The recycling process makes it possible for a Pack-Store plastic container to be returned to the market in the form of (for example) a plastic planter. And indeed: this planter can also be completely recycled!
When is plastic 100% recyclable?
The word “recyclable” is sometimes used too lightly. It creates ambiguity, which can lead to wrong assumptions. According to recent research by Natuur & Milieu (Dutch publication), it appears that 52% of the plastic used in supermarkets is recyclable to a limited extent only. Moreover 13% is not recyclable at all. A logical question is therefore: When is plastic 100% recyclable?
Plastic packaging is recyclable if the packaging has an unambiguous composition that can be used in the production of new packaging. This concerns products made of one type of material (mono material).
Materials that are 100% recyclable:
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
If you come across plastic packaging in the supermarket (or other stores) with one of the above logos on the packaging, you can assume that the packaging is 100% recyclable.
Please note! This logo does not necessarily refer to any additions to the packaging such as sleeves and/or (plastic) wrappers. The addition can still make the packaging not or less recyclable!
Why is it that plastic is sometimes not fully recyclable?
Just like we have mentioned before, it is important that no mix of materials is used. The main reason for this is that a product cannot be separated properly and that it still ends up in the incinerator. Think of the following kind of packaging:
- Glued combinations of paper and plastic;
- Use of full body sleeves (paper or plastic) that must be removed by the consumer;
- Use of aluminum foils.
The idea of the removable sleeves is a good one, but in practice this application does not yet yield the desired result. Simply because the consumer does not know that the packaging is designed in this way.
This is how we solve it!
Almost all products in the Pack-Store webshop are made of polypropylene (PP Random Copolymer) and this material is 100% recyclable. This means that the product can be fully used as the basis for a renewed raw material.
If customers opt for packaging with printing, we use the In Mold Labeling technique In Mold Labeling technique IML. During production, a polypropylene label is fused with the packaging so that the packaging remains 100% recyclable, despite the printing on the product!