Technical Support and Guidance

Reviewing the Recyclability of Plastic Packaging Samples

With the growing scrutiny and public interest on plastic packaging it is more important than ever to ensure your packaging meets recyclability criteria and has the best opportunity possible to be recovered, sorted and reprocessed.

In addition to The Recyclability by Design Guidelines, RECOUP can test sample packaging for both design and recovery in UK recycling facilities.

The Process

RECOUP will take sample packaging and review them based on typical UK systems, and test through appropriate sorting and reprocessing sites where required. This will be assessed against accepted recyclability criteria. A report will be provided, and test sheets completed to confirm each step of the recycling process. We will document how the samples react within those systems, with the material types and components assessed against recyclability, this will also include details of the equipment provider.  If it is not deemed recyclable, the reasons will be given, and recommendations provided to improve recyclability.

The samples will be assessed in the first instance using a theoretical approach, before being taken to up to 3 different facilities to ensure good representation in the UK. Note principles of sorting and reprocessing are also the same internationally. The samples will be tested in real industrial conditions, they will be placed with other mixed material to see how they behave and will be presented to the Near Infra-Red optical sorting equipment to prove detectability. As a matter of course, where NIR tests have been specifically requested, the samples will also be placed at the front of the MRF, to determine progress through the system. i.e. to confirm that the packaging will pass through to the NIR stage, and also to document where the material finishes, after the NIR testing.

Within this work, the RECOUP team will help with further development and re-testing as needed, working confidentially RECOUP are happy to sign Non-disclosure agreements where required.

What we test for:

  1. Size - This impacts the recovery of the sample, if too small can be lost during sorting, if too big or heavy may not be detected.
  2. Colour – Certain colours can impede recovery by not being recognised by the Near IR
  3. Mixed or laminated materials – combined/layered polymer types can confuse the Near IR as they set to detect certain materials, testing is recommended to see what polymer type they are identified as.
  4. Sleeves/labels – These can make a difference to the recovery: how much of the surface area is covered by the label and what polymer the label is derived from. Full sleeves generally impede recovery with ink and colours also impacting.

This service is free to RECOUP members

If you would like to arrange a review of sample packaging, please contact;

Tel: 01733 390021

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