Definition

A global definition of “recyclability” of plastics packaging and products is an integral step to harmonize the worldwide plastics recycling industry. This definition was developed by The Association of Plastics Recyclers (APR) and Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) in 2018.

Plastics must meet four conditions for a product to be considered recyclable:

The product must be made with a plastic that is collected for recycling, has market value and/or is supported by a legislatively mandated program.

The product can be processed and reclaimed/recycled with commercial recycling processes.

The product must be sorted and aggregated into defined streams for recycling processes

The recycled plastic becomes a raw material that is used in the production of new products.

 

This definition does not intend to restrict innovation. For innovative materials to be recyclable, it shall be demonstrated that they can be collected and sorted in sufficient quantities and are compatible with existing industrial recycling processes or have sufficient material quantities to justify operating new recycling processes.

Fulfilling these four categories does not automatically designate a product recyclable. Recycled material is available in many different quality grades which depend among others on the quality of the recycling input material. Recyclability will depend on the specific design of each packaging that will have to be evaluated by the RecyClass Online Tool (link).
Additionally, and in line with the fourth requirement of the recyclability definition, RecyClass endorsed the concept of “circularity” as defined by Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

‘A circular economy is one that is restorative and regenerative by design and aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times.’

(Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation, 2015).


Closed-loop applications are used as a benchmark for Testing Protocols and Guidelines. However, there are cases where functionality requirements make certain packaging hard to be designed for closed-loop recycling systems. In those cases, design choices leading to the longer multiple-step cascaded recycling must be favoured.

Visit our Methodology page to learn how RecyClass implemented these concepts.

Discover our Methodology