Sustainability in the plastics industry is a hotter topic than ever. And being sustainable means something different to each distributor – whether it’s creating reusable products, converting scrap from production back into resin or incorporating post-consumer material into products.
At Versa Pak, we’re doing all three. In this blog, we’ve also curated a printable infographic on why post-consumer recycled resins — or PCR — are important to sustainability and the economic climate.
Where is the Plastics Industry Headed in Terms of Sustainability?
“In the last six months or so, the use of recycled content is getting to be more focused and the more agreed-upon direction,” said Versa Pak Risk and Compliance Officer Joel Giesige, “Some of the bag associations are saying by 2025, they’re going to have 25 percent of recycled content in all of their products.”
But for something like a used plastic water bottle to become a new product, it needs to actually be recycled first. That’s why it’s important for vendors and distributors to educate consumers, says Jeff Knapke, sales manager at Versa Pak.
“I’ve seen two presentations done that state that Millennials want everything recycled. But the problem is, they’re not doing the recycling. So part of the deal is that we need to educate people about the different numbers and how that process works,” said Knapke.
What are the Benefits of Using Post-Consumer Recycled Plastics?
For distributors looking for sustainable and cost-effective options, post-consumer resin (PCR) products can be a good bet. They also perform and look similar to virgin resins, said Giesige, though they aren’t exactly alike.
“They’re never going to be 100 percent identical to virgin plastic, and that’s not always a bad thing,” he said. “A lot of people like to see that there is a difference and really see that they are doing something different by trying this material.”
Post-consumer options are perhaps more popular than options like degradable or compostable materials, Knapke added. That’s because they’re easy enough to understand: Materials are used for their intended purpose and then created into new materials through recycling. They are also beneficial by diverting waste from landfills and reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are associated with the extraction and processing of the resources needed to produce new raw materials.
And unlike compostable or degradable products, which can create a lot of questions – like how does it degrade or how long does it take to break down – when your recycled-origin material arrives, you already know what it is and how it works.
PCR Resins and a Circular Economy
A circular economy keeps materials, products, and services in circulation for as long as possible, according to the EPA. By choosing post-consumer recycled resins for their products, our customers have a critical role to play in driving the circular economy. In the infographic below, you can see how PCR affects a circular economy.
Printable Guide to PCR
Post-consumer recycled content is important to both the environment and end-users. Download the PCR guide to share with your consumers to educate them on the PCR manufacturing process and its effect on our economy.
How Can Recycled Materials Be Used?
Post-consumer recycled resins can be used in a wide variety of applications, Giesige said. Some may even be FDA-approved for non-food purposes.
Versa Pak is a leading polyethylene films and sheeting supplier across the United States. We also have the option of post-consumer resins, which are produced into sheeting, films, bags and more. As for sustainability efforts within our own Celina, Ohio, manufacturing plant, we also convert scrap from our projects back into resins to be re-used. If you’d like to learn more about how this process can benefit you or to request a quote, contact us by clicking the button below.
This blog was originally published in March 2020 and was updated in September 2022.