On May 31, 2018, the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), “the leading international trade organization representing the plastics recycling industry,” issued a press release about the development of new sorting protocols for the recycling industry.
These Sorting Potential Protocols will identify packaging that gets lost in the recycling process – if materials cannot be sorted correctly, they cannot continue the process to become recycled.
Protocols assess the sorting potential of a packaging, not specific to plastics, but will also test additional components before considering it recyclable.
APR defines “recyclable” based on three factors:
Effects on successful sortation include size, color, labels and metal components, as well as how infrared determines the plastic’s resin content. The overall goal of the Sorting Potential Protocol is to create guidelines that allow brand owners and packaging designers to determine if packaging will be recyclable through today’s technology. APR considers how 2D, 3D, flat and thin packaging will behave in a typical material recovery facility (MRF), and APR’s Protocol is based on observations of functionality from about 15 MRFs.
The Sorting Potential Protocols is part of an effort for The APR Design® Guide for Plastics Recyclability to remain “the most comprehensive resource outlining the plastics recycling industry’s recommendations in the marketplace today.” APR expects the Protocols to be finished by the end of 2018, and hopes they will deter manufacturers away from putting recycling symbols and labels on containers that cannot be sorted properly, as they end up being diverted to landfills.