Definition of Recyclability

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. It has received the support of Petcore Europe.

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

  1. 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.
  2. The product must be sorted and aggregated into defined streams for recycling processes.
  3. The product can be processed and reclaimed/recycled with commercial recycling processes.
  4. 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.

Nonetheless, 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 input material to the process. Recyclability will however depend on the specific design of each packaging that will have to be evaluated by the RecyClass tool.