Post consumer recycled (PCR) plastic is what most people think of when they think of recycled material. As its name suggests, it comes from recycling consumer waste such as plastic bottles. On the other hand, post industrial recycled plastic comes from industrial waste products, such as plastic off cuts during the manufacturing process.
Both these processes reduce the amount of plastic going to landfills and by using them you are lowering your carbon footprint. Using recycled material prevents the need for new petroleum products to be processed. At Integrated Packaging Films Inc. (IPF) we make up to 100% PCR recycled PET films. We collect our PCR PET from recyclers who take great care in making sure the plastic flake we receive from them is as close to new, virgin plastic as possible. By using PCR material, you are supporting recyclers so that they can improve their infrastructure and gain access to more resources.
What are the challenges with PCR?
Although using recycled material is great for your environmental impact it is not without issues and complications. There are several challenges recyclers, manufacturers, and moulders may face when using recycled material.
The main issues faced by recyclers is sourcing, sorting, and cleaning. Sourcing good quality plastic material with few contaminants from recycle streams is incredibly important. Plastic needs to be sorted from other material types as well as from other plastic types. There are various methods used including manual/mechanical sorting, optical sorting, and flotation sorting, among others. Even with various methods of sorting, this infrastructure is often very expensive. There are also other issues such as black plastic being unable to be recognized by sorting systems. The quality of PCR flake is very dependent on the recycling facility that produces it and their capability to produce consistent material.
Plastic manufacturers may fine issues with recycled material consistency. Even the smallest amount of undesired material, such as a flake of black plastic in a bed of clear flake, may cause undesired qualities in the finished product. It is because of this reason why there may be some small specks in PCR material or discolouration of the product. This is why at IPF we only get our PCR flake from vetted, high quality recyclers.
As a result of the various processing steps required to produce PCR material the price is often higher than new virgin material. It is often difficult for moulders to justify using PCR material because of this. However, with increased environmental and public pressure it is often seen to be worth the additional cost. With increased use of recycled products, there will hopefully be an increase in infrastructure to further make the use of PCR material economical.
What is IPF’s capability?
IPF specializes in making PCR PET plastic. We have the ability to make 100% PCR material with exceptional quality and clarity. We have the ability to make sheets between 0.010” and 0.045”. By choosing our recycled plastic, you’re choosing to lower your environmental impact.