All the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) value chain needs to take action to increase recycling rates, according to an EU body representing plastic recyclers.
EuPR has developed eco-design guidelines for HDPE bottles after it revealed only 300,000 tonnes are recycled annually, representing only 10%-15% of HDPE waste generated in Europe.
The trade organisation said the guidelines have been created to enable quality recyclate that can be used again in products such as milk bottles in compliance with food contact regulations.
The guidelines say HDPE colourless bodied bottles can be recycled while colours and black inner layers have conditional status.
Polystyrene (PS), black coloured bottles, ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH), polyamides (PA) and polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) barrier and additives making material density >1 g/cm3 cannot be recycled.
Call to action
Christian-Yves Crépet, EuPR HDPE working group chairman, told FoodProductionDaily.com all the HDPE value chain needs to take action.
“Plastics recyclers are the first ones to spot any problem in the end-of-life phase of packaging.
“Without strong commitments from all these actors the HDPE recycling rate will stay as low as it is today,” he said.
“Collection schemes must promote collection of HDPE in order to collect much higher quantities of much better quality. Recyclers will have to invest more in capacity and technology.”
He added that the low recycling rate of HDPE was mainly due to two main issues.
“Firstly, the collection of HDPE is very low and it does not exist in all EU countries. Secondly, the eco-design of the HDPE products is barely taken into consideration.
“Thus, the European recyclers must cope with both low quantities and low qualities. In order to push HDPE recycling to another level the mentioned market conditions must be changed,” he said.
“In order to be as beneficial as possible the HDPE products which are put on the market should be clear – there should be a limit on the use of colours for the bottles.
“This strategy would allow for new applications for the recycled HDPE.”
Working with brand owners
EuPR said it is ready to take a leading role to promote more recycling of HDPE in Europe, but has called for closer cooperation from brand owners in terms of sustainability.
“Brand owners need to put on the market HDPE products that have proper life-cycle thinking.
When asked about the guidelines, Crépet added: “The purpose is to alert the brand owners that some of the used materials are not compatible with HDPE recycling.
“As for the products classified in the “No” column they are simply incompatible with HDPE recycling.
“Additionally, this list is not static as more innovations, which are needed to improve the packaging, are daily put on the market.”
To read the full guidelines click HERE