APR believes that functional, attractive, and economical plastic products can be designed that are also fully compatible with material recovery and plastics reclamation systems. The Champions for Change® Program was created to encourage innovators to conduct testing and confirm any impact of new plastics designs and components on recycling, and then publicize and promote those efforts. The APR Design® Guide for Plastics Recyclability is the foundation of the Champions for Change® Program. Those that employ the APR Design® Guide, and have successfully completed testing, as part of their product development program can be an APR Champion for Change® through Critical and Applications Guidance Recognition.
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Innovation in plastics and packaging is necessary to maintain a healthy and competitive industry. To support innovators, the APR has developed a variety of laboratory test method documents that that can be used to assess the impact of a plastic design feature or component on recycling.
APR Test Categories
Screening Test Procedures +The APR publishes and maintains a variety of test methods that innovators can use to gage the impact of an innovation on recycling. Screening tests typically evaluate a narrow aspect of an innovation or a package component on recycling. For example, a screening test might evaluate how well a closure or label floats in water, or how much color develops in PET from an extrusion or injection molding heat history. Many of these tests use equipment that is commonly available in a technical development laboratory and can be employed in a variety of laboratories. Some of the test methods employ specialized equipment that is not generally available and may be best conducted at a specialized laboratory experienced in conducting recycle tests.
Benchmark Test Procedures +These procedures are employed for materials or technologies where we want to assess recycle performance of an innovation to the best of our ability, but where experience tells us we may not know all the variables or conditions that need to be evaluated. While these are comprehensive recycling evaluations, we do not have the experience to know they capture all the important aspects impacting the product area.
Critical Guidance Documents +These documents provide a comprehensive laboratory scale recycling testing plan and test result evaluation criteria to assess the impact of an innovation on key aspects of recycling resins and packaging articles. Critical Guidance is available today for only PET and HDPE packaging because these are the two resins where there is ample industry experience to allow us to know how to test and how to evaluate test results in the laboratory to evaluate plant scale performance with confidence. The testing can start with either a new resin, or from bottles made with a new additive or packaging component innovation. Bottles are recycled and processed to pelletized resin. Injection molded plaques are made to assess the impact of the innovation on color of the plaques. Because there is no single standard recycling process, the tests and measurements made are selected to be meaningful to most stakeholders in the recycling industry. The purpose of these tests is to confirm that an innovation is fully compatible with the appropriate plastic recycling stream. The testing plan purposely uses a high level of the innovation in each assessment to reveal potential for a negative impact.
Applications Guidance Documents +These documents provide a comprehensive recycling test and test result evaluation criteria for recycling a complete package innovation back into a finished article, not simply a molded plaque as in Critical Guidance. Applications Guidance for HDPE calls for innovations to be recycled back into new HDPE bottles. For PET, Applications Guidance provides for recycling an innovation back into new bottles, sheet, fibers, or strapping. The purpose is to test specific shelf-ready packages for technical compatibility with recycling, including all components of the package.
In-Plant Production Scale Evaluations +These evaluations are employed when laboratory tests may not be able to predict recycling performance for some new technologies, or we do not have established laboratory tests available. In these cases, it may be desirable to evaluate an innovation under regular production scale conditions. APR members are often willing to make their MRF and reclaiming facilities available for such evaluations.