Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers Issues Cautionary Statement On PET Plastic Biodegradability Claims

PETE resin code image
PETE (formerly known as "PET") Resin Code #1. Via:Wikipedia

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) recently issued a cautionary memo regarding potential risks to established recycling programs of certain additives used to "enhance" biodegradability of PET packaging. This supposed enhancement of biodegradability is apparently accomplished by the addition of whatever magic foo-foo dust a supplier chooses to mix into the PET resins they use to make packaging. As APR points out, the functionality claims are unusual sounding:- "Some additives are termed biodegradable. Some are termed oxo-degradable and some photodegradable." Because this is a very important subject for folks dedicated to recycling, the bulk of APR's statement is included below.
Via the APR (pdf file).

APR’s initial impression is the degradation of otherwise-recycled plastics means lost opportunities for the repeated use of molecules through recycling. Our understanding of the life cycle implications is that repeated use of molecules through recycling leads to less environmental burden than single use of molecules. Repeated use of molecules should lead to more efficient use of natural resources and complement overall sustainability efforts. Recycled plastics can be used for almost all applications original plastics serve including many that stress durability and physical performance.

APR asks those who advocate and specify degradable additives to consider the sustainability implications of degradable additives that lower the functionality of recycled post consumer plastics when included with recyclable plastics. Degradable additives that weaken products or shorten the useful life of durable plastics would have a strongly negative impact of post-consumer plastics recycling. APR provides its PET Critical Guidance and Applications Guidance to evaluate PET bottle innovations.

Degradable additives should not encourage or excuse poor consumer waste management behavior, such as littering.

APR invites promoters of degradation additives to explain the impact of such materials on the active recycling of bottles and films. The explanation can include the use of APR guidance documents. APR also invites the presentation of life cycle analyses that show environmental improvement afforded by the additives.

APR invites the presentation of test data and certification of compliance with international standards for biodegradation for the additives when included with otherwise non-degrading plastics.

APR is considering the functional, economic, and environmental consequences of degradation additives and welcomes input. Plastics that are inherently degradable and have been so certified, including polylactic acid, are not the subject of these inquiries.

For further reference, see also the website of National Association For PET Container Resources (NAPCOR)

More posts on PET recycling.
Mexico Gets Rolling with PET and Cardboard Recycling
Bangladesh Turning PET Into Cash
Closing the PET loop: re-cycling water bottles
PET Bottles: Upcycled Watter Bottles at designboom

Tags: Recycling


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