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plastics recycling

Designing Plastic Packaging to Increase Recycling

plastics recyclingA new design guideline aims to increase plastics recycling by detailing steps for packaging and design engineers to consider when making products or containers.

The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) published the updated APR Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability. The international trade organization representing the plastics recycling industry says its goal is to have packaging designed that is compatible with the recycling infrastructure.

“One of the biggest challenges facing plastic recyclers are containers that come through the stream that may have a negative impact on recycling,” said APR president Steve Alexander in a statement. “Both recyclers and product manufacturers often do not realize the implications of new products, until they have been brought to market, made it through the collection process, and contaminate the recycling stream.”

APR says the updated guide is more user-friendly, aligns with APR test protocols, and provides a variety of additional resources. It specifically addresses plastic packaging, but the principles can be applied to all potentially recycled plastic items. It is organized by individual resin categories, which are then divided into design elements such as color, dimensions, labels, inks and adhesives.

The design guide follows several reports and recommendations published in recent months that detail how to reduce plastic waste and increase recycling — along with the associated financial benefits to the plastics industry.

The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) launched a tool for plastics manufacturers to evaluate waste reduction opportunities and maximize landfill diversion. The trade group says its Zero Net Waste program provides plastics companies with a concrete set of resources they can use to pursue, and achieve, zero waste in their facilities and offices.

A report by the World Economic Forum and Ellen MacArthur Foundation calls on all stakeholders across the global plastics value chain to apply circular economy principles to plastic packaging to reduce harmful environmental effects such as leakage into oceans.

And a paper by Trucost says an industry-wide expansion of sustainable plastic initiatives such Dell’s recycled plastic and Algix’s bioplastic could deliver $3.5 billion in environmental savings.

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