Establishing reliable plastic packaging sustainability claims

Sustainability claims have taken the world by storm, as the consumers look for products with lower environmental impact. Meanwhile companies strive to transition from linear towards a circular economy, prompting the need for reliable certification and labelling of such environmental claims. This is especially true for plastic products, given the efforts to improve their waste management.  

In addition to consumer pressure, the European market is faced with regulatory requirements, calling for a structured, consistent, and verifiable approach to eliminate greenwashing.

Transparency, traceability, and trust are the key in building reliable recyclability and recycled content claims. These are also the three principles – known as the 3 T’s of RecyClass – around which the RecyClass certification schemes have been developed.

RecyClass is a comprehensive cross-industry initiative that works to advance plastic packaging recyclability and to establish a harmonized approach towards recycled content calculation in Europe. RecyClass launched certifications for recyclability, and more recently a certification which recognizes transparent and actual use of recycled plastics in finished or semi-finished products.

RecyClass Recycled Plastics Traceability Certification guarantees the verifiability and traceability of the material along the whole value chain, up to the consumers. In practice, it attests the origins, sourcing, recycling processes and incorporation of the material in the final product. Within such a system the ownership and the certification are passed from one actor of the value chain to another. This practice is ensured via the Chain of Custody as well as the Recycled Plastics standards, on which the certification is based.

Chain of Custody, among others, guarantees the traceability and origins of waste. This in turn implies that the certification must be paired with a scheme that verifies that in a transparent manner. EuCertPlast is an example of such a scheme, where not only the source of waste but also the recycling process in its entirety is assessed.

The creation of the RecyClass Recycled Plastics Traceability Certification was possible thanks to the expertise and collaboration of the RecyClass members who cover a broad spectrum of plastics industry players.

The know-how and cooperation of the entire value chain are what sets RecyClass apart. With this and its in-built independent audit system, RecyClass has all the necessary prerequisites to serve as a robust assessment model.

“Creating truly circular plastic packaging relies heavily of the uptake of recyclates in new products, but also on the trust and ability to verify the source and quality of the same. Ensuring all base is covered and no detail is overlooked is crucial for creating a Europe-wide reference certification scheme” said Paolo Glerean RecyClass Chairman. He added, “RecyClass strives towards bringing clarity to the market, not only for the value-chain players but also for the end-consumers.”

In addition to the already mentioned advantages, this certification scheme allows adequate determination of the share of post- and pre-consumer streams, via percentage-based recycled content calculation.

The certification is destined for any company which plays a part in the value chain and holds custody of the recycled plastics including but not limited to compounders, converters, blow moulders and brand owners. With this, RecyClass aims to accelerate the establishment of a strong market for recycled plastics.

To further strengthen the credibility of its work, RecyClass launched a public consultation on the draft guidance on the use of recyclability and recycled content claims. Following the completion of the consultation period, a dedicated taskforce will incorporate the feedback into a final guidance. The release of the guidance and the results of the consultation will also be publicly discussed during a RecyClass Unwrapped webinar on March 31st.  

RecyClass Recycled Plastics Traceability Certification supports a harmonized, factual approach to recycled content calculation, which is indispensable to comply with the EU legislation. Moreover, RecyClass will continue to support the industry’s transition efforts towards making plastics packaging circular.

References : https://www.eppm.com/blogs/guest-blogs/establishing-reliable-plastic-packaging-sustainability-claim/