plastic film pile
APR has published guidance on how film and flexible packaging makers can establish the recyclability of their packaging formats.
Photo by Brian Taylor.

APR releases film and flexible packaging recyclability guidance

Association says its PE Film Critical Guidance and Test Documents measure recyclability of submitted packaging.

August 21, 2020

The Washington-based Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) says it has published a new testing protocol designed to determine whether film packaging is compatible with the current recycling infrastructure.

The PE (polyethylene) Film Critical Guidance Test Protocol is an addition to the APR Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability, APR says. “The new test, resulting from extensive industry collaboration, measures the capability of innovative film packaging to be recycled into new thin film applications,” the association states.

“PE film and flexible packaging is a fast-growing segment for consumer brands,” says Sandi Childs, APR director of films and flexible packaging. “The ability to measure compatibility with recycling is vital to keeping a clean stream of materials flowing to recyclers from retail store drop-off bins.”

To achieve APR’s Critical Guidance Recognition, companies must complete a protocol with a third-party testing laboratory and then present the results to APR for review and approval. Once approved by APR, companies are eligible to market a type of packaging as formally recognized by APR and compatible with current recycling infrastructure.

“Cleaner supply results in more efficient processing, lower cost, and higher quality PCR (postconsumer resin) that ultimately delivers products consumers want to buy,” comments Jon Stephens, president of Natura PCR LLC, part of Houston-based Avangard Innovative. Natura has recently expanded its capacity to recycle PE films and flexible packaging.

“We rely on APR to establish the industry standard in recycling compatibility test protocols,” adds Stephens, who serves as chair of APR Film and Flexibles Technical Committee. “This test protocol was truly an effort that involved all participants in the PE film value chain.”

Steve Alexander, president and CEO of APR, says, “These changes are consistent with our efforts to ensure that the APR Design Guide has impact as the essential reference document that brand owners can use to meet the demands and recycling standards for the global marketplace. With the surge of sustainability commitments by global brand owners, this newly released test protocol fills an urgent need.”