© Bits and Splits - adobe.stock.com

Recyclate

Definition, areas of application, advantages: an overview of the subject of plastic recyclates

What does “recycled material” mean in connection with plastics?

According to the generally applicable definition, recycled material is the product of a recycling process and accordingly stands for substances and objects that consist entirely or in part of recycled materials. In other words: waste is recycled. Recycling is possible for almost all materials, e.g. plastics, cardboard, paper, wood or glass. However, the term “recycled material” is mostly used in connection with plastics.

What types of recyclate are there?

According to DIN EN ISO 14021, there are two types of recycled material: Post-industrial recycled material (“PIR” for short) and post-consumer recycled material (“PCR” for short).

PIR is waste before use, which is defined as follows:

“Material diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process. Excluded is reutilization of materials such as rework, regrind or scrap generated in a process and capable of being reclaimed within the same process that generated it.”

PCR is waste after use, which is defined as follows:

Material generated by households or by commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in their role as end-users of the product which can no longer be used for its intended purpose. This includes returns of material from the distribution chain.”

Foil products can be awarded the “Blue Angel” ecolabel if they are manufactured with a high proportion (at least 80 %) of PCR. The award criteria DE-UZ 30a, which are defined by the RAL Institute, form the basis for this environmental label.

Which products from The Sustainable People are made from recyclate and what are the advantages?

Dog waste bags:

In addition to the biodegradable variant, we also offer dog waste bags that are made from up to 100 % recycled production waste (PE). This means a significant saving in CO₂ compared to fresh PE made from new granulate. In addition, the use of recyclate compared to new granulate is synonymous with less land use, since there is no oil production.

As long as it is ensured that the dog waste bags are always disposed of correctly (in the residual waste), it can be said quite clearly that recycled PE is a good material from an ecological point of view – at least as long as fossil raw materials (e.g. crude oil) are used to generate energy. This is due to the fact that PE burns residue-free in the waste incineration process to form carbon dioxide and water, and a lot of energy can be gained thanks to the high heating value of PE.

In the production of our recycling dog waste bags for consumers, PE is used from recycled production waste from other applications, for example from the production of mailing bags. In this way, it is the shortest of all conceivable transport routes, thus the minimum process effort and as little material as possible is wasted.

 

Garbage bags:

Our recycled garbage bags, all certified with the Blue Angel, are made from up to 100 % recycled material in a resource-saving manner (PE, at least 90 % post-consumer waste from household recycling). The use of such recycling materials makes an important contribution to conserving resources by substituting primary plastics and using plastics that have already been used at least once again in products. In addition, the use of recycled material means significant savings in CO₂ and less land use compared to fresh PE made from new granulate.

In addition, our recycled garbage bags are made of a mono material (PE), which makes them very easy to recycle. This means another option for collecting recyclable materials. The film-free packaging made from FSC certified kraft paper is of course also recyclable (in the waste paper).

Which is better, Post-Industrial Recyclate (PIR) or Post-Consumer Recyclate (PCR)?

In a background report from the Federal Environment Agency [1] it says:

“[…] so-called post-consumer waste represents by far the largest part of the total amount of plastic waste. From an ecological point of view, material recycling is usually superior to all other recycling options, such as thermal recycling, but currently only a part of post-consumer plastics are mechanically recycled (around 17% based on the total amount of plastic waste). One of the reasons for this is that there are currently no established sales channels for such recycling materials. This, in turn, may be due to the high market price of the recyclates compared to new goods, feared disadvantages with regard to the material quality and the lack of the possibility of sorting the materials. Environmental labeling of finished products that are made with a high proportion of these recycled materials can contribute to strengthening sales and thus strengthening the recycling of post-consumer plastic waste.”

The re-use of PCR in everyday products is therefore a central building block in the context of a sustainable economy and also corresponds to the current overarching environmental policy objectives at the EU level within the framework of the so-called “Circular Economy” activities of the EU commission.

Recycled drawstring bin liners and recycled garbage bags from The Sustainable People consist of at least 90 % PCR. We are thus making a contribution to strengthening sales and thus strengthening the recycling of post-consumer plastic waste. The recycling of PCR also gives the affected waste a value and prevents the material from ending up in landfills.

PIR consists of waste or residues (e.g. cuttings or scrap) that have accrued in the course of industrial production and are therefore recycled for the first time. Due to the higher quality of PIR compared to PCR, the probability that such material will be disposed of in landfills is comparatively low. Thus, the ecological added value through recycling can be rated as higher with PCR.

The quality of the starting material for PCR is lower compared to the starting material for PIR, so this is also suitable for fewer applications or more difficult to process. This means more effort in reprocessing (e.g. washing, sorting) and a challenge in producing good products. Since plastic is simply too valuable not to be recycled and with a view to increasing the amount of recycling, the following principle applies: the more often plastics can be recycled, the better.

The overriding goal: disused plastic products are turned into recyclates that can be reused in new plastic products, thereby replacing primary plastics. In the best case scenario, the recyclates go back to the same area of application. Understanding material flows as a cycle and waste as a raw material undoubtedly has many advantages for the environment. The ecological benefit increases with each further use and ultimately also serves the important goal that plastics do not end up in the environment.

From an ecological point of view, PCR is often, but not always better than PIR across the board. We speak from our own experience, as we have already dealt intensively with the differences in the use of the two types of material. We have already tried to make dog waste bags from PCR ourselves. In doing so, however, we had to find out that the production of such dog waste bags is only possible from a material thickness of 35 micrometers for technical reasons. However, this is completely oversized for the application, i.e. the disposal of dog poop. For comparison: our recycling dog waste bags with PE from recycled production waste have a material thickness of 13-15 micrometers, which makes them particularly tear-resistant and moisture-resistant. The higher the material thickness, the more material is used in production. This then has corresponding effects, since, for example, far fewer bags fit into one box compared to the thinner bags. This also means a much higher logistical effort, since much more material has to be transported per unit produced than when using a thinner material.

Conclusion: in principle, we also prefer the use of PCR – wherever it is possible and useful. That is why we offer, for example, garbage bags made of such a material, which is also certified with the Blue Angel. However, if the use of such materials leads to a comparatively enormous additional consumption of material – as in the case of dog waste bags – we prefer the use of post-industrial materials.

© black_kira - adobe.stock.com

[1] Umweltzeichen Blauer Engel für Produkte aus Recycling-Kunststoffen, Hintergrundbericht zur Überarbeitung der Vergabekriterien DE-UZ 30a, Ausgabe Januar 2019, https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/479/publikationen/2020-07-02_texte_124-2020_vergabekriterien-be-kunststoffrecycling.pdf

[2] COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS, A new Circular Economy Action Plan For a cleaner and more competitive Europe, COM/2020/98 final, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1583933814386&uri=COM:2020:98:FIN

© Bits and Splits - adobe.stock.com

Recyclate

Definition, areas of application, advantages: an overview of the subject of plastic recyclates

What does “recycled material” mean in connection with plastics?

According to the generally applicable definition, recycled material is the product of a recycling process and accordingly stands for substances and objects that consist entirely or in part of recycled materials. In other words: waste is recycled. Recycling is possible for almost all materials, e.g. plastics, cardboard, paper, wood or glass. However, the term “recycled material” is mostly used in connection with plastics.

What types of recyclate are there?

According to DIN EN ISO 14021, there are two types of recycled material: Post-industrial recycled material (“PIR” for short) and post-consumer recycled material (“PCR” for short).

PIR is waste before use, which is defined as follows:

“Material diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process. Excluded is reutilization of materials such as rework, regrind or scrap generated in a process and capable of being reclaimed within the same process that generated it.”

PCR is waste after use, which is defined as follows:

“Material generated by households or by commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in their role as end-users of the product which can no longer be used for its intended purpose. This includes returns of material from the distribution chain.”

Foil products can be awarded the “Blue Angel” ecolabel if they are manufactured with a high proportion (at least 80 %) of PCR. The award criteria DE-UZ 30a, which are defined by the RAL Institute, form the basis for this environmental label.

Which products from The Sustainable People are made
from recyclate and what are the advantages?

Dog waste bags:

In addition to the biodegradable variant, we also offer dog waste bags that are made from 97 % recycled production waste (PE). This means a significant saving in CO₂ compared to fresh PE made from new granulate. In addition, the use of recyclate compared to new granulate is synonymous with less land use, since there is no oil production.

As long as it is ensured that the dog waste bags are always disposed of correctly (in the residual waste), it can be said quite clearly that recycled PE is a good material from an ecological point of view – at least as long as fossil raw materials (e.g. crude oil) are used to generate energy. This is due to the fact that PE burns residue-free in the waste incineration process to form carbon dioxide and water, and a lot of energy can be gained thanks to the high heating value of PE.

In the production of our recycling dog waste bags for consumers, PE is used from recycled production waste from other applications, for example from the production of mailing bags. In this way, it is the shortest of all conceivable transport routes, thus the minimum process effort and as little material as possible is wasted.

Garbage bags:

Our recycled garbage bags, all certified with the Blue Angel, are made from up to 100 % recycled material in a resource-saving manner (PE, at least 90 % post-consumer waste from household recycling). The use of such recycling materials makes an important contribution to conserving resources by substituting primary plastics and using plastics that have already been used at least once again in products. In addition, the use of recycled material means significant savings in CO₂ and less land use compared to fresh PE made from new granulate.

In addition, our recycled garbage bags are made of a mono material (PE), which makes them very easy to recycle. This means another option for collecting recyclable materials. The film-free packaging made from FSC certified kraft paper is of course also recyclable (in the waste paper).

Which is better, Post-Industrial Recyclate (PIR)
or Post-Consumer Recyclate (PCR)?

In a background report from the Federal Environment Agency [1] it says:

“[…] so-called post-consumer waste represents by far the largest part of the total amount of plastic waste. From an ecological point of view, material recycling is usually superior to all other recycling options, such as thermal recycling, but currently only a part of post-consumer plastics are mechanically recycled (around 17% based on the total amount of plastic waste). One of the reasons for this is that there are currently no established sales channels for such recycling materials. This, in turn, may be due to the high market price of the recyclates compared to new goods, feared disadvantages with regard to the material quality and the lack of the possibility of sorting the materials. Environmental labeling of finished products that are made with a high proportion of these recycled materials can contribute to strengthening sales and thus strengthening the recycling of post-consumer plastic waste.”

The re-use of PCR in everyday products is therefore a central building block in the context of a sustainable economy and also corresponds to the current overarching environmental policy objectives at the EU level within the framework of the so-called “Circular Economy” activities of the EU commission.

Recycled drawstring bin liners and recycled garbage bags from The Sustainable People consist of at least 90 % PCR. We are thus making a contribution to strengthening sales and thus strengthening the recycling of post-consumer plastic waste. The recycling of PCR also gives the affected waste a value and prevents the material from ending up in landfills.

PIR consists of waste or residues (e.g. cuttings or scrap) that have accrued in the course of industrial production and are therefore recycled for the first time. Due to the higher quality of PIR compared to PCR, the probability that such material will be disposed of in landfills is comparatively low. Thus, the ecological added value through recycling can be rated as higher with PCR.

The quality of the starting material for PCR is lower compared to the starting material for PIR, so this is also suitable for fewer applications or more difficult to process. This means more effort in reprocessing (e.g. washing, sorting) and a challenge in producing good products. Since plastic is simply too valuable not to be recycled and with a view to increasing the amount of recycling, the following principle applies: the more often plastics can be recycled, the better.

The overriding goal: disused plastic products are turned into recyclates that can be reused in new plastic products, thereby replacing primary plastics. In the best case scenario, the recyclates go back to the same area of application. Understanding material flows as a cycle and waste as a raw material undoubtedly has many advantages for the environment. The ecological benefit increases with each further use and ultimately also serves the important goal that plastics do not end up in the environment.

From an ecological point of view, PCR is often, but not always better than PIR across the board. We speak from our own experience, as we have already dealt intensively with the differences in the use of the two types of material. We have already tried to make dog waste bags from PCR ourselves. In doing so, however, we had to find out that the production of such dog waste bags is only possible from a material thickness of 35 micrometers for technical reasons. However, this is completely oversized for the application, i.e. the disposal of dog poop. For comparison: our recycling dog waste bags with PE from recycled production waste have a material thickness of 13-15 micrometers, which makes them particularly tear-resistant and moisture-resistant. The higher the material thickness, the more material is used in production. This then has corresponding effects, since, for example, far fewer bags fit into one box compared to the thinner bags. This also means a much higher logistical effort, since much more material has to be transported per unit produced than when using a thinner material.

Conclusion: in principle, we also prefer the use of PCR – wherever it is possible and useful. That is why we offer, for example, garbage bags made of such a material, which is also certified with the Blue Angel. However, if the use of such materials leads to a comparatively enormous additional consumption of material – as in the case of dog waste bags – we prefer the use of post-industrial materials.

© black_kira - adobe.stock.com

[1] Umweltzeichen Blauer Engel für Produkte aus Recycling-Kunststoffen, Hintergrundbericht zur Überarbeitung der Vergabekriterien DE-UZ 30a, Ausgabe Januar 2019, https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/479/publikationen/2020-07-02_texte_124-2020_vergabekriterien-be-kunststoffrecycling.pdf

[2] COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS, A new Circular Economy Action Plan For a cleaner and more competitive Europe, COM/2020/98 final, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1583933814386&uri=COM:2020:98:FIN

Logo_3zeilig_beige

CONTACT

The Sustainable People
Eilbeker Weg 66
22089 Hamburg
+49 (0)40 – 881 973 63
info@thesustainablepeople.com

SAY HELLO ON:

RATE US ON:

© The Sustainable People – All rights reserved.