The Association of Plastic Recyclers
  • HDPE

    HDPE

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 can be used to assess the impact of a plastic design feature or component on recycling. APR test methods combine laboratory practices and measurements developed specifically by and for plastic recyclers with standard ASTM tests. The objective of testing is to determine the impact of a design feature on the processability of a package item as well as the ability of post-consumer resin (PCR) derived from such feedstocks to meet quality specifications for end-use applications. To view APR’s test method definitions, click here.

Design Feature Recyclability Category APR Test Methods APR Recognized Commercially Available Options Additional Resources
BASE POLYMER
Postconsumer Polyolefin Content check Preferred document
APR Lifecycle Inventory for Recycled Resins
Blends of HDPE and other resins with unknown effects in future uses of recovered resins unknown Needs Testing
Untested blends may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
HDPE-CG-01
COLOR
Unpigmented (Natural) check Preferred
Opaque or Translucent check Preferred
Optical Brighteners x Detrimental
Why?
Black and Dark Colors unknown Needs Testing
Untested colors may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-S-01
SORT-B-01
document
NIR Sortation
DIMENSIONS
Items up to and greater than 7.5 liters (2 gallons) in volume (no large size boundary) check Preferred
Items more 3-dimensional (round) than 2-dimensional (flat) check Preferred if
approximate CASS > 20
SORT-B-0X (Under Development)
Small size boundary check Preferred if
< 5 cm (2 in) in 2 dimensions
document
SORT-B-02
document
Size Sortation
CLOSURES & CLOSURE LINERS; SAFETY SEALS
Polyethylene Closures check Preferred
Closure Systems without Liners, Valves check Preferred CG Recognition Letters
EVA and TPE Liners check Preferred
Polymers with density > 1.0 that sink in water - specifically PS, silicone, nylon, acetal, thermosets check Preferred
Shrink Film Safety Sleeves that are designed to be completely removed before the package can be opened check Preferred
Polyethylene or Polypropylene tamper-evident safety sleeves check Preferred
PETG or PLA tamper-evident safety sleeves check Preferred
Polypropylene closures x Detrimental
Why?
Liners or safety seals that are composites of AL and paper x Detrimental
Why?
Closures containing floating silicone polymer x Detrimental
Why?
PVC Closures and Tamper-evident safety sleeves check Preferred if
completely removed before package can be opened
x Detrimental
Why?
Closures or lidding with metal components unknown Needs Testing
Untested closures or liddings may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-03
document
Metal Sortation
Shrink Film Safety Sleeves, all materials check Preferred if
completely removed before package can be opened
document
HDPE-CG-01
SPRAY DISPENSERS AND PUMPS
Polymers with density > 1.0 that sink in water, specifically PS, silicone, nylon, acetal, thermosets check Preferred document
Meets Preferred Guidance Recognition Program Resource Document for Dispensers
Polypropylene dispensers x Detrimental
Why?
Valves made of silicone (density and floatability will vary) unknown Needs Testing
Untested valves may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
HDPE-CG-01
Valves or springs made of metal unknown Needs Testing
Untested blends may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-03
BARRIER LAYERS, COATINGS, ADDITIVES
EVOH up to 5%, with a minimum of 32 mol% ethylene check Preferred CG Recognition Letters
"Workhorse" additives check Preferred CG Recognition Letters
Non-HDPE barrier materials other than EVOH unknown Needs Testing
Untested barrier materials may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-S-01
CG Recognition Letters document
Squeeze Tubes
Additive concentration causing blend to sink due to density > 1.0 unknown Needs Testing
Untested additives may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
O-S-01
Degradable Additives unknown Needs Testing
Untested additives may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
HDPE-S-03
message
APR Position Statement
LABELS & INKS
Polypropylene or polyethylene labels check Preferred CG Recognition Letters document
Squeeze Tubes
In-mold labels of a compatible polymer check Preferred CG Recognition Letters
Full bottle sleeve labels designed for sorting check Preferred CG Recognition Letters document
Squeeze Tubes
Paper Labels x Detrimental
Why?
Label Inks unknown Needs Testing
Untested inks may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
HDPE-S-01
HDPE-CG-02
HDPE-CG-03
Metal foil, metalized, and metallic printed labels unknown Needs Testing
Untested labels may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-03
SORT-S-01
Full bottle sleeve labels unknown Needs Testing
Untested labels may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-S-01
SORT-B-01
HDPE-CG-02
HDPE-CG-03
document
Squeeze Tubes
Direct Printing other than Date Coding unknown Needs Testing
Untested labels may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
HDPE-S-01
HDPE-CG-02
HDPE-CG-03
CG Recognition Letters
LABEL/ADHESIVE COMBINATIONS
Metal Foil Labels that pass Metal Sorting Potential Test check Preferred if
adhesive releases in wash
x Detrimental if
adhesive does not release in wash
Why?
Polystyrene Labels check Preferred if
adhesive releases in wash
x Detrimental if
adhesive does not release in wash
Why?
PLA Labels check Preferred if
adhesive releases in wash
x Non-Recyclable if
adhesive does not release in wash
PVC Labels x Detrimental if
adhesive does not release in wash
Why?
Label/Adhesive Combinations where adhesive release and substrate float/sink behavior are not known unknown Needs Testing
Untested label/adhesive combinations may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
O-S-01
HDPE-CG-02
HDPE-CG-03
CG Recognition Letters
ATTACHMENTS
Plastic Attachments with Density > 1.0 except PVC check Preferred
Paper Attachments x Detrimental
Why?
PVC Attachments x Detrimental
Why?
Polypropylene Attachments x Detrimental
Why?
RFID x Detrimental
Why?
Non-HDPE Attachments unknown Needs Testing
Untested attachments may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
O-S-01
Metal, Metalized, and Metal Containing Attachments unknown Needs Testing
Untested attachments may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
SORT-B-03
Welded Attachments unknown Needs Testing
Untested attachments may yield Preferred, Detrimental, or Non-Recyclable results
document
O-S-01
HDPE-CG-01
“Composite Attribute Summary Score” –CASS
The CASS is an evaluation of the sorting potential of an item based on its dimensions. The guiding principle is that rigid plastic packaging articles that are more three-dimensional (round, cylindrical, square) will sort more efficiently in today’s MRFs than those which are more two-dimensional (flat). The evaluation applies a weighting factor to each dimension length, then assigns the score based on the summation of the adjusted dimensions. Depending on the CASS, an item may be classified as “Preferred”, or it may need to be tested to determine its actual sorting potential. The CASS is intended to be used with the Evaluation of 2D/3D Sorting Potential of Articlestest method which is under development
Optical Brighteners
Optical brighteners are not removed in the recycling process and can create an unacceptable fluorescence for next uses of recycled HDPE. It is difficult to identify material with this negative effect until extremely late in the recycling process where a great deal of added cost has been imparted into a material of low value due to the additive.
Polypropylene closures
When blended with HDPE it negatively affects the impact properties and can render the material brittle.Although very small amounts of PP, such as that contributed by labels, are regularly accepted by HDPE reclaimers, closures and dispensers comprising a larger weight percentage of the package have a greater negative affect.
Liners that are Composites of AL and Paper
These materials will contaminate wash water, will contribute to waste disposal costs, or will stick to the valuable HDPE and reduce quality and value of the final products.
Closures containing floating silicone polymer
This material passes through the float-sink tank along with the HDPE and is difficult to remove with other methods, thereby causing contamination in the final product.Sinking silicone does not experience this issue.
PVC Closures and Tamper-evident safety sleeves
PVC is relatively easy to remove in the float-sink tank since it sinks while the HDPE floats.However, the float-sink tank is imperfect and even a very small amount of PVC with the recycled HDPE renders large amounts of it unusable as the PVC degrades at lower temperatures than those at which HDPE is processed.
Polypropylene dispensers
When blended with HDPE it negatively affects the impact properties and can render the material brittle.Although very small amounts of PP, such as that contributed by labels, are regularly accepted by HDPE reclaimers, closures and dispensers comprising a larger weight percentage of the package have a greater negative affect.
Paper Labels
The HDPE reclamation process involves water and agitation.The paper that detaches from the container when subjected to these conditions becomes pulp, which does not sink intact but remains suspended in the liquid, adding load to the filtering and water treatment systems.Paper remaining adhered to the HDPE travels with the HDPE to the extruder where the material carbonizes and causes color defects. Even after melt filtering, the burned smell and discoloration remain with the recycled HDPE thereby negatively affecting its potential reuse.
Metal Foil Labels that pass Metal Sorting Potential Test
If small, not detected, or allowed to pass, these labels, when used with an adhesive that does not release in the wash, either cause the attached HDPE to sink where it is lost in the float-sink tank or pass into the extruder where they can blind melt filters.
Polystyrene Labels
PS, when used with an adhesive that does not release in the wash, remains with the HDPE and enters the extruder where it is blended with the HDPE.PS is not compatible with HDPE and may cause splay or reduce PS, when used with an adhesive that does not release in the wash, remains with the HDPE and enters the extruder where it is blended with the HDPE.PS is not compatible with HDPE and may cause splay or reduce impact toughness for the recycled HDPE user.
PVC Labels
When used with an adhesive that releases in the wash, these labels sink in the float-sink tank where they are removed. But because the float-sink tank is imperfect, and even a very small amount of PVC entering the extruder causes severe quality and yield problems, this material is detrimental.
Paper Attachments
The HDPE reclamation process involves a wash step that removes adhesives and other components.This process renders paper into a pulp which is very difficult to filter from the liquid, adding significant load to the filtering and water treatment systems.Some of the small individual paper fibers will remain with the HDPE and carbonize when the material is extruded, causing unacceptable quality degradation.
PVC Attachments
PVC sinks in the float sink tank where the majority of it is removed from the HDPE.Because the float sink tank is imperfect and even a very small amount of PVC entering the extruder causes sever quality and yield problems, this material is detrimental. PVC degrades at HDPE extrusion temperatures and renders large amounts of the recycled HDPE unusable.
Polypropylene Attachments
When blended with HDPE it negatively affects stiffness and impact properties.Although very small amounts of PE, such as that contributed by labels, are regularly accepted by HDPE reclaimers, some attachments comprise a larger weight percentage of the package and therefore a greater negative affect.
RFID
The use of RFID’s is discouraged as may limit HDPE yield, introduce potential contamination, and increase separation and waste disposal costs.
APR Recognized Commercially Available Options
Kim Pai Go Green HD-PBL 220/11 HDPE/LLDPE laminated non-metallized tube, direct decorated with UV flexo inks and gloss varnish on white HDPE and with 3.7% or less ethylene vinyl alcohol barrier layer and tie layer and with an HDPE shoulder and a PET shoulder insert and without closure
Kim Pai Go Green HD-PBL EV15-350 HDPE/LLDPE extruded non-metallized tube, direct decorated with UV dry-offset inks and gloss varnish on white HDPE and with 3.4% or less ethylene vinyl alcohol barrier layer and tie layer and with an HDPE shoulder and without closure
Greenleaf Generation 2
Samson Tube
Samson Tube
HDPE bottle with EVOH barrier layer and tie layer
Kim Pai Go Green 300, 350, and 380 HDPE non-metallized and decorated tubes with 3.9% or less EVOH barrier layer and an HDPE shoulder and PP closure and also Kim Pai Go Green 250 HDPE metallized and decorated tube with 4.4% or less EVOH barrier layer and an HDPE shoulder, with and without a PET shoulder insert, and PP closure
Kim Pai Go Green 250 HDPE white sleeve and transparent sleeve direct decorated tube with 5% or less ethylene vinyl alcohol barrier layer and tie layer and with and without a PET shoulder insert
HDPE and LLDPE, 7.6% or less ethylene vinyl alcohol barrier layer and tie layer, direct printed
TUPACK Decorated HDPE blend tube, without and with less than 5% ethylene vinyl alcohol co-extruded barrier layer and maleated polyolefin tie layer, and low-melt flow index HDPE shoulder and HDPE closure

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