Updated guidelines from Recoup highlight the scope for designing plastics packaging to aid recycling. The guide, called Plastics Packaging - Recyclability by Design, updates a 2006 document and adds sections on bioplastics and mixed plastics packaging recycling.
John Simmons, chief executive of UK-based Recoup, said the 2006 guide had been “a key tool and reference point to many” and the new version reflects further work by Recoup and its partners. “This work I am sure will make a positive contribution to the progression of plastics packaging recycling and will communicate and share best practice, all part of Recoup’s core objectives.”
The 48-page guide covers design considerations such as minimising use of different plastics and keeping barrier layers as thin as possible. A materials section provides information on recycling considerations when using PET, PVC, PE and PP.
Bioplastics, such as PLA, have been used in packaging applications in recent years and the new guide discusses issues such as compatibility with established plastics waste streams. The market penetration of bioplastics in packaging is still small but this situation may change and risks could develop in the mixing of bioplastics in conventional plastics waste collection, the guide says.
“Consideration should be given to developing a separate infrastructure for the collection of the bioplastic where risks are foreseen and sufficient market uptake achieved,” the guide says.
An alternative approach would involve separating bioplastics from conventional materials streams by manual or automatic sorting.
The guide also looks at “mixed plastics” – items such as tubs and trays, as well as film. Recoup will separately publish an industry backed specification for mixed plastics packaging which will be available soon.
The 48 page guide is available for free download on the Recoup website