RecyClass conducted 15 test campaigns and issued 50 recyclability approvals in 2022. These recyclability assessments covered the recyclability of common packaging components for both rigid and flexible plastic packaging. All were carried out by recognised, independent laboratories.
For example, the evaluation included an assessment of the behaviour of PP in the rigid HDPE recycling stream and 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, technologies such as laminating adhesives and functional barriers were evaluated.
In addition, RecyClass has published new guidelines for white and natural PS containers, developed together with the relevant stakeholders in the value chain. As white packaging has a high material value, this is now also reflected in the guidelines for “natural and white” HDPE, PP and the aforementioned PS containers. While the design recommendations are the same, the new guidelines state that white packaging should be recycled in a separate stream from natural packaging.
Finally, with regard to the Recyclability Evaluation Protocols, RecyClass has been working to streamline the testing procedures with those of the Association of Plastics Recyclers in the USA to facilitate joint recyclability evaluations by both organisations.
The main aim of updating the protocols was to standardise them by maximising the repeatability of the procedures. These changes included clarification of test conditions and definitions, as well as alignment with current state-of-the-art recycling practices based on feedback from recognised RecyClass testing facilities, members and recyclers.
The latest guidelines and revised protocols are available on the RecyClass website. To further ensure the transparency behind RecyClass recommendations to the plastics industry, the RecyClass Internal Rules and Quality Management and Procedures for Recyclability Approvals, which explain the decision-making process, are also available.
RecyClass will continue to improve its recommendations in line with the latest market developments to include a wide range of innovative packaging and technologies. They will continue to be based on scientific evidence and the valuable expertise of the whole value chain, so that they can be delivered to the market in a timely manner. This will accelerate the standardisation of Design for Recycling guidelines and testing protocols across Europe, ultimately facilitating the assessment of the recyclability of plastic packaging in each EU country according to the same methodology, as foreseen in the new proposal for a Regulation on packaging and packaging waste.