Plastic recycling in practice

Recycling is the reuse of raw materials and part of the supply chain.

What does recycling mean in practice?

The term recycling is often associated with poor quality or the “Yellow Bag”. In contrast, expectations towards recycling material are in general that it needs to replace virgin material without compromises.

What do we mean by recyclate?

Opinions for the term recyclate are shifting towards an association with a product rather than waste. Only by reusing raw materials can loops be closed. Without secondary raw materials there is no circular economy.

Available material sources are industrial waste and byproducts (PIR) as well as pre-sorted post-consumer waste (PCR), e.g. Yellow Bag.

Recyclate (recycled plastic) is a generic term; it describes a moulding composition or a processed plastic material with defined characteristics, which has already been processed once before.

How do I produce a defined recyclate?

  • Defined incoming goods streams – Knowledge of the individual materials, material data sheet, as well as a clean and sorted by type collection of waste or by-products at the manufacturer
  • Inspection of the raw material – incoming goods inspection, laboratory analysis
  • Do I require additives to meet the required material characteristics and what are the additional costs?
  • Will the customer accept a higher price due to the extra costs?

Further it is important that quality is assured by clearly defined work and process steps.

Plastic recycling offers many advantages

  • Saving of primary resources
  • Cost reductions
  • CO2 savings
  • A contribution towards the environment and more sustainability.

To encourage/foster the use of plastic recyclates further, drawings need to be reviewed for possible changes or modifications of raw materials and test and approval guidelines adapted according to the requirements – “as much as necessary, as little as possible”.

Legislation

For a holistic review of plastic recycling it is also important to take the relevant legislation into consideration.

The following laws and legislation are linked to plastic recycling:

  • Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz (KRWG)
  • Abfallrecht
  • Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH)
  • Globally Harmonised System (GHS)
  • Classification, Labelling, Packaging (CLP)
  • Restriction of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS)

Plastic (non-hazardous) waste, even if sorted by type, are subject to waste legislation and classified via an AVV-Number.

The following two AVV-numbers are generally applied:

  • AVV – 070213 plastic waste
  • AVV –120105 plastic chips and shavings

By-products (like sprues, faulty parts or others) are subject to chemical legislation (Verordnung (EG) Nr. 1907/2006* – „REACH-Verordnung“) and as such are not considered waste.

As soon as plastic waste is ground, waste legislation no longer applies as the waste is now, due to the processing, considered a material, which is subject to REACH legislation. Thus, recyclates, as regrind or granulate, are subject to the requirements and rules of the REACH legislation.

Compliance with all laws and legislation during the manufacturing of recyclates, i.e. circular economy legislation, chemical legislation (REACH, GHS/CLP) and final product legislation (GADSL, RoHS, …) is self-explanatory for us.