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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Manufacturing > Product Development > Manufacturing Design & Engineering for Sustainable Business

Design Products & Packaging Early for Recycling

Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers provides guidelines for designing bottles for recycling

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Plastic recycling of bottles and containers

Plastic Product and Container Design

Because plastic lasts "forever" and has become a major pollution problem for the wildlife and phytoplankton in our oceans, which are responsible for feeding millions of people as well as producing significant portions of the world's oxygen, sustainable and responsible design and production practices are critically important for plastic containers and packaging that uses plastic.

Plastic bottles are a major element in America's consumer lifestyle, and packaging design and innovation drives the growth of bottles available for recycling and growth of supply of bottles is essential to the well being of the plastic bottle recycling industry.

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers recognizes that some innovations may create bottles that present technical challenges for recycling and they recognize that conducting tests is only part of the needed understanding for responsible management of these plastic materials for recycling and environmental safety.

Plastic Product Design Guidelines

APR recommends that packaging designers and engineers discuss their concepts and test results with knowledgeable reclaimers and conduct cooperative testing under the "Champions for Change Program."

Screening Tools for Plastic Bottle Recycling

APR provides its CRITICAL GUIDANCE DOCUMENTS, which represent screening tools to help the innovator understand the approximate effect of the innovation on plastic bottle recycling in a “worst case” scenario.

The industry standard guidelines define a limited number of critical, testable properties for PET and HDPE bottles. Other issues and concerns may also be important to consider during the design phase of a product.

Measurements for Design Success

Part of design is also defining the measurements for success: and packaging requires defined test samples and test methods, as well as critical values for interpreting those test results.

Bottle innovators, plastic bottle designers, fabricators, and packaging decision-makers and encouraged to understand how packaging design decisions can affect container recyclability and to design packages to be compatible with the broadest range of recycling operations and technologies.

Designing for Fitness of Purpose

The guiding principle of any packaging design must be "fitness of purpose." Beyond designing for purpose, designing to enhance recyclability should be in the forefront of design considerations.

The "DESIGN FOR RECYCLABILITY GUIDELINES" have been in existence for over 10 years and are based on actual industry experience. These guidelines by the APR specifically seek to avoid stifling innovation and to avoid any restraint of trade. APR seeks to aid packaging designers with specific information to allow for informed decisions.

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers
2000 L Street NW, Suite 835
Washington, DC 20036

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