Post Consumer Recycled Plastic | Recycling Your Packaging
What Is Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) Plastic?
In a world that is increasingly aware of the importance of responsible consumption and recycled items, packaging materials are more relevant than ever. Not only can the right materials help protect the planet and prevent the climate from worsening, but by choosing certain materials you can help your brand perception and gain favorability amongst your customers.
When it comes to flexible packaging options, you may have heard of recyclable or compostable packaging, but a newer trend is emerging. Post consumer recycled (PCR) plastic has made it into the mainstream. But what exactly is it, and how does it compare to other sustainable packing options?
PCR plastic is plastic that’s been given a second life. It takes in a bunch of different plastics and produces a new material that can be used. As the name suggests, these plastics have already been used by consumers. This type of packaging has a slew of advantages for both the environment and the consumer, but unlike compostable and recyclable packaging, their lifespan tends to end once they are used this second time.
The Basics of Post Consumer Recycled Plastics
When you chug a plastic water bottle, get food in a to-go container, or rip open a new gadget from its plastic shell, one of two things will happen.
Either the plastic is thrown away if it isn’t made from a type of material that can be recycled (or the consumer chooses not to recycle it), or it is recycled and brought to a facility. Here, the materials are sorted, melted, and reformed into something new.
So post consumer plastics takes recycled plastic, breaks them down, and turns them into a new product that can be used once again. One of the most common uses for this is packaging.
Amongst many other eco-friendly packaging options, there are two kinds of PCR plastic offered at CarePac for flexible plastic options: Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and Polyethylene (PE) films. Using both of these allows for more variety and options to suit your needs.
What Makes PCR Materials Different From Compostable and Recyclable Packaging?
PCR is an environmentally friendly packaging that is worth the switch, but they’re not the only one. Compostable packaging is something that can be entirely broken down relatively quickly and returned to the Earth. Recyclable packaging is made from materials that have the favorable property of allowing them to be treated and used again in something new. PCR packaging has already gone through this recycling process and is made from plastics that have already served a purpose.
In this way, PCR plastic is in a later stage and is a second-life plastic. Therefore, PRC plastic has the unique characteristic of not needing new materials to be made. This is fantastic because any time something new is made it takes up resources, energy, and typically requires the use of fossil fuels that emit harmful gasses into the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, because of the complicated process of breaking plastics down and forming them back together, it is much more difficult to recycle plastics that have already been recycled. Therefore, after using PCR packaging it does become waste.
Advantages of PCR Packaging & Recycled Integrated Packaging Films
The plastics market size is undoubtedly huge. With so many options, it’s important to evaluate the advantages of PCR packaging. This way, you can ensure you are taking care to make a good choice for your products, containers, and material needs.
Because the materials are already made, there are typically no fossil fuels used to create these films. Additionally, because they are post-consumer recycled material, they help contribute to a circular economy. This means that something is made, used, returned, and used again. In theory, this circle can continue forever, creating far less waste and avoiding the landfill for as long as possible.
Not only does PCR reduce environmental harm, but it also retains the same level of quality and durability as alternatives. Therefore, you can have peace of mind when choosing this option. Another great benefit is that it shows corporate responsibility and creates good public relations for your brands. Finally, it takes the burden off of the consumer to recycle plastics in order to help the environment.
All of the wins are great, but unfortunately, PCR plastic isn’t perfect. Because of the complicated process of recycling and creating new materials from pre-existing ones, it can be energy-intensive and difficult to re-recycle. Therefore, once post-consumer recycled products are used, it tends to be the end of their lifespan and they do need to be thrown out.
Choosing The Right Packing For You
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Sounds tempting, right?