- The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) has announced plans to prioritize the capture of plastic containers three inches and smaller in material recovery facilities (MRFs), as reported by Resource Recycling.
- Bottle caps, take-out sauce containers, cosmetics and other small items often slip through sorting technology and end up as residue that is sent to landfills or waste-to-energy facilities.
- APR is also working on an electronic bulletin system through which manufacturers can notify MRFs of product changes or new packaging and include photos.
This is the latest in a series of initiatives by the APR to boost recovery rates and make life easier for MRF operators. Earlier this year the organization released updated recycling guidelines aimed at getting manufacturers on the same page as MRFs in terms of product design. They defined "recyclable" as meaning at least 60% of consumers have access to a collection system for the packaging and provided a long list of design specifications.
As commodity prices for many categories of recyclable materials remain low, it's becoming more common for industry groups to try and connect with manufacturers about what happens with their products on the back end. APR also expressed concern about plastic cans with metal rims over the summer and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) has teamed up with The Recycling Partnership on a project to get more high-quality material in the supply chain.
If these efforts can help increase curbside diversion rates and MRF recovery rates then some of the talk about extended producer responsibility requirements could decrease. Though if an internal California Department of Resources Recycling Recovery memo from this year is any indication, officials may still not believe that manufacturers can make their products recyclable enough without some form of new regulations in place.