RecyClass Criteria Help Improve the Recyclability of Packaging

Nov 24, 2022 | News

In 2020, the overall post-consumer recycling rate for plastic packaging in the EU countries and Norway, Switzerland and the UK was 46%. It was an increase of 9.5% compared to 2018. However, the design stage decides whether packaging will be recyclable or end up in a landfill. RecyClass Criteria are a useful tool in this respect. 

Why packaging recyclability is important

The packaging industry aims to move towards a circular economy and make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030. 

Packaging design is the first step towards achieving these goals. The more compatible the individual design features (e.g. labels or closure systems) are with recycling, the easier it is to collect, sort and recycle the packaging as a whole. At the same time, this makes it possible to produce raw materials of a higher quality that can be used to manufacture new products.

Packaging manufacturers should choose plastics with recycling streams in the EU when designing solutions. It is also important to maximise the proportion of the main polymer, as recycling processes vary depending on the polymer type. In turn, the preference for mono-material packaging facilitates both sorting and recycling. Producers should also reduce the number of colours and include fewer printed areas, as it is not normally possible to remove inks from the packaging in recycling, but special equipment is needed.

This is what packaging recyclability looks like, according to RecyClass

RecyClass is a non-profit, cross-industry initiative that, among other things, has prepared the Design for Recycling Guidelines. The guidelines indicate the extent to which different types of packaging are suitable for recycling. 

Packaging is classified with a traffic light colour system and grades from A (full compatibility) to F (no recycling compatibility). Classes A, B and C are considered recyclable.

source: RecyClass

For a better understanding of this concept, take a look at the recyclability criteria for natural PE flexible films

The green column includes elements that ensure the best recyclability of the packaging and the quality of its recyclate. The yellow column includes packaging features that have been tested or are known to have a slight influence on the recycling process and/or the quality of the recyclate. Features in the red column significantly affect the recycling process and/or the quality of the recyclate and should therefore be avoided in packaging design.

Our subsidiary Chemosvit Folie also follows the RecyClass principles when designing recyclable packaging for its customers in order to contribute to the transition to a circular economy.

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