APR Defined Recyclability Categories
The APR Design® Guide addresses design features or components commonly used with plastic packaging applications. A complete package, such as a bottle or jug, is comprised of design features or components that include:
- Resin type
- Size and dimensions
- Closures and dispensers
- Barrier Layers, coatings, and additives
- Labels, adhesives and printing
The recycling impact of each design feature is discussed within the Guide. APR’s guidance on the design feature is developed by consensus of the APR’s Technical Committees, made up of experts from all parts of the recycling value chain, and reflects both hands-on experience and test data. Recyclability categories consider the impact of design features on the value as feedstock of a package, the productivity of the reclaimers, and the quality of the final post-consumer resin (PCR) or finished product application.
APR’s design guidance considering these impacts provides four categories of recycling compatibility which should be thoroughly understood:
- APR DESIGN® GUIDE PREFERRED:
Features readily accepted by MRFs and recyclers since the majority of the industry has the capability to identify, sort, and process a package exhibiting this feature with minimal, or no, negative effect on the productivity of the operation or final product quality. Packages with these features are likely to pass through the recycling process into the most appropriate material stream with the potential of producing high quality material.
- DETRIMENTAL TO RECYCLING:
Features that present known technical challenges for the MRF or recycler’s yield, productivity or final product quality, but are grudgingly tolerated and accepted by the majority of MRFs and recyclers. A plastic item may be considered Recyclable with Detrimental features with the understanding that package manufacturers should use the detailed guidance provided by APR to change their design and achieve Preferred status.
- RENDERS PACKAGE NON-RECYCLABLE PER APR DEFINITION:
The majority of MRFs or reclaimers cannot remove these features to the degree required to generate a marketable end product, or the package cannot be captured at a majority of MRFs or reclaimers due to typical machinery settings or equipment capabilities. Ultimately, a package exhibiting this design feature will be completely discarded even if it has other Preferred features.
- REQUIRES TEST DATA:
In order to determine a recyclability category, testing per an APR testing protocol is required. APR provides a library of peer-reviewed, technically rigorous test methods that should be used to evaluate package design features with an unknown impact on recyclability. APR’s tests are designed to encourage companies to strive for Preferred.