The Association of Plastic Recyclers
  • PP

    PP

Size and volume of items within the recycling stream are important features in determining whether something is Preferred, Detrimental or Needs Further Testing. For that reason, this section splits out size and volume based on sortation steps within the recycling process.
  • Large Size Boundary:

    This boundary exists due to size limits of recycling machinery, particularly automatic sorting equipment, within a Material Recovery Facility (MRF). MRFs typically employ manual sortation before the automatic sort line to remove larger items.

  • Small Size Boundary:

    This boundary exists due to the minimum sieve size within the glass screens at a Material Recovery Facility (MRF). The mixed material that enters the MRF to be sorted is first compressed/crushed and then passed over these glass screens. The glass screens have small sieve openings where the crushed glass drops through and is sent to the glass recycling stream. However, small plastic packaging items that are below these sieve openings in the glass screens will also drop through to the glass stream and will be lost to the plastic recycling streams.

  • 2D/3D Boundary:

    This boundary exists due to the separation process that happens in a Material Recovery Facility in order to separate out the paper (2D items) from the containers (3D items) within the stream of mixed materials. If plastic packaging is sorted by the machinery as 2D, it will be sent to the paper stream and will be lost to the plastic recycling stream.

PREFERRED

Large Size Boundary: Items that are ≤ 7.5L (2 gal) in volume

Recycling machinery, particularly automatic sorting equipment, typically cannot process items larger than 7.5 liters (2 gallons).

Small Size Boundary: Items that clearly measure larger than 5 cm (2 in) in any two dimensions

Small size boundaries are of concern because the industry standard glass screen size for Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in North America potentially loses materials less than two inches to the glass stream.

2D/3D Boundary: Items where the smallest uncompressed dimension ≥ minimum dimensions per RES-SORT-05

While weight and surface area factor into the likely outcome for 2D/3D separation process, the most critical factor is height of the package when it is laying down. Packages tend to orient themselves so that height is defined as the smallest overall dimension of the package.

Click below for commercially available PP packaging items that have achieved APR Design for Recyclability Recognition

APR Design® for Recyclability Recognitions

DETRIMENTAL

Large Size Boundary: Items that are > 7.5 L (2 gal) in volume

Recycling machinery, particularly automatic sorting equipment, typically not able to accept items larger than 7.5 liters (2 gallons). Items over this max size are manual pulled out of the recycling stream before the automatic sort equipment to avoid damage. These items are recovered in a stream of bulky rigid containers that are sold and processed as polyethylene since the vast majority of bulky rigid items are comprised of this polymer. Other polymers including PP either negatively affect or are lost by the polyethylene processing.

REQUIRES TEST RESULTS

Small Size Boundary: Items smaller than 5 cm(2 in) in any two dimensions

The industry standard glass screen size for North American MRFs potentially loses materials less than 5 cm (2 in) to the glass stream. Sortation testing below can determine the impact of the size and shape of a container on sortability.

BENCHMARK TEST

2D/3D Boundary: Items where the smallest uncompressed dimension < minimum dimensions per RES-SORT-05

Aside from not being captured in the PP stream, non-conforming items that are more “flat” can cause contamination in the paper stream. If items are not captured and directed into the PP stream, they are not recycled.

Sortation testing below can determine if packaging is Preferred or Detrimental

BENCHMARK TEST

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