The latest scientific findings of existing and novel packaging features along with state-of-the-art recycling technologies are at the centre of the update of both the RecyClass Design for Recycling Guidelines and Recyclability Evaluation Protocols.
RecyClass conducted 15 test campaigns and issued 50 Recyclability Approvals in 2022. The recycling compatibility of commonly found packaging components for both rigid and flexible plastic packaging was the subject of these recyclability evaluations. All were carried out by recognised, independent laboratories.
For example, the evaluation included assessing the behaviour of PP in the rigid HDPE recycling stream, as well as the impact of HPDE in the PP stream. Similarly, the tests measured the compatibility of different types of lids for PS pots. For flexible packaging, on the other hand, technologies like laminating adhesives and functional barriers were assessed.
Furthermore, RecyClass released new Guidelines for white and natural PS containers – developed in collaboration with the relevant value chain players. Additionally, since white packaging has a high material value, it is now reflected in the Guidelines for “natural and white” HDPE, PP and the mentioned PS containers. Whereas the design recommendations are the same, in line with the new guidelines white packaging should be recycled in a separate stream from natural packaging.
Finally, concerning the Recyclability Evaluation Protocols, RecyClass undertook the work to streamline the testing procedures with the ones of the Association of Plastics Recyclers in the US, to facilitate common recyclability evaluations by both organisations.
The main goal of the Protocols update was to standardise them by maximising the repeatability of the procedures. These modifications included clarifications on testing conditions and definitions, but also alignment with the current state-of-the-art recycling practices based on the feedback from recognised RecyClass Testing Facilities, Members and recyclers.
The latest Guidelines and revised Protocols can be found on the RecyClass website. To further safeguard the transparency behind the RecyClass recommendations to the plastic industry, the RecyClass Internal Rules and the Quality Management and Procedures for Recyclability Approvals, which explain the decision-making process, are also available.
RecyClass will continue improving its recommendations in line with the latest market developments, in order to include a wide range of innovative packaging and technologies. They will continue to be based on scientific findings and the valuable expertise of the whole value chain so that they are promptly delivered on the market. This will accelerate the standardisation of design for recycling guidelines and testing protocols across Europe ultimately facilitating the recyclability assessment of plastic packaging in every EU country according to the same methodology, as stipulated in the new proposal for the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation.