Materials derived from recycling under the microscope: post-industrial, post-consumer and in-process recycled materials
The use of plastic recyclates, i.e. materials obtained from recycling, has been rising continuously in Germany for several years now. According to the BKV study "Material flow diagram plastics in Germany 2019", around 12.3 million tons (mt) of plastics from primary raw materials were processed into material applications in 2019 (e.g. packaging).
This represents a decrease of 0.9% compared to 2017, with slightly more than 1.9 million t of recovered materials processed in return. Compared to 2017, this corresponds to an increase of 10.2%. (Source: Umweltbundesamt.de, "Plastic waste"). However: not all plastic waste is the same, and a fundamental distinction must be made, especially for the composition of individual TPEs. This is because not every material is suitable for every TPE.
This refers to material that is separated from the waste stream in the manufacturing process. However, it also refers to products that have not been used for their intended purpose.
Examples: Die-cut grids (e.g., in the production of yogurt cups), unused, discarded goods (e.g., misprinted coffee-to-go cups), and unused goods that do not stand up to quality inspection (e.g., a plastic cup with a hole).
Post-Industrial Recycled Material
Post-industrial material in use, i.e. material that is produced at least in part from post-industrial recyclables.
Examples: Waste material from plastics production is used in the manufacture of thermoplastic elastomers.
This is all about waste from end users, i.e. households, commercial or industrial facilities, that can no longer be used for its intended purpose. Returned material from the supply chain is also included here.
Examples: Waste paper, foil packaging from pallets, big bags.yellow
Post-Consumer Recycled Material
Post-consumer material in use: material from end consumers that can no longer be used for its intended purpose, consisting of waste paper, foil packaging, etc. from households. End consumers are (private) households and commercial and industrial facilities
Examples: Toilet paper and copier paper with recycled content, detergent bottles, etc.
In-Process Recycled Material
Material produced by/with reuse of waste from own production.
Example: Recycling of sprues and rejects in injection molding production
While there are only limited areas of application in the medical sector where materials obtained from recycling may be used, they are gaining ground in the automotive and consumer sectors. Last but not least, OEMs and manufacturers of lifestyle gadgets insist on a certain proportion of recycled raw materials in their chosen TPEs.
From a manufacturer's perspective, we strongly expect demand to continue to rise across the board, as will the (minimum) requirements for the percentage of recycled content in individual compounds. Our advice is therefore to address the issue as early as possible.