FAQ

  • What is the RecyClass Online Tool?

    A User Manual is available to all users to define, explain and illustrate how the Online Tool works. This includes explanations of the concepts, acronyms, and logic behind the questions. The manual also describes the scope of the tool.  

    What does the tool intend to do?

    • Provide technical information on how to design plastic packaging to be compatible with recycling
    • Simulate a recyclability audit
    • Gain knowledge on the existing recycling streams in Europe
    • Stay informed about the country-specific collection, sorting, and recycling systems

    What does the tool not intend to do?

    • Act as a recyclability certification or validation
    • Evaluate the recyclability of isolated component or packaging attachments (e.g., closure, valve, lidding film) alone. Their compatibility is indeed strongly dependant of the packaging main body, that will determine the recycling stream.

    The assessment of the RecyClass Online Tool is providing a technical evaluation of the compatibility of plastic packaging with recycling. This evaluation is based on the most commonly used sorting and recycling infrastructures in Europe. As next step, the recyclability in practice can be verified by performing a country-specific check to ensure that a collection system is in place, and that sorting, and recycling infrastructures are available (cf. question on the waste management systems and their mapping).

  • What is the correlation between the RecyClass protocols, the Online Tool, and the recyclability certifications?

    RecyClass developed a 3-steps approach to assess plastic packaging recyclability:

    • TESTING PROTOCOLS

      • Lab testing of innovative plastic packaging vs control material
      • Test campaigns to generate knowledge for the industry and feed the guidelines
    • DESIGN FOR RECYCLING GUIDELINES

      • Design guide & recommendations for plastic packaging
      • Fact-based information that serves as basis for the recyclability assessments
    • RECYCLABILIY ASSESSMENTS

      • Recyclability self-assessment with the RecyClass Online-Tool
      • Recyclability Certification by third-party Certification Bodies

    The Testing protocols, Design for Recycling guidelines, Online-Tool and certification are inter-connected, aligned, and complementary. RecyClass aims to offer a comprehensive toolbox for the industry looking to move towards plastics circularity.

  • How to calculate the recyclable plastic content (part 1)?

    The plastic share to take into account per type of packaging is detailed in the RecyClass Recyclability Methodology document. This share corresponds to the valuable and recoverable plastic amount. The following table summarizes the weight to consider and the weights to remove from the calculation:

      PE PP PET PS

    Content weights (wt%) to consider

    PE (LLDPE, LDPE, MDPE, HDPE) and

    PP*

    PP and PE* (LLDPE, LDPE, MDPE, HDPE)

    -For PET bottles: PET, PE, and PP

    -For PET trays: PET

    PS

    Content weights (wt%) to remove

    Any others (PET, PLA, PS, paper, barriers, additives, inks, adhesives, etc.)

    Any others (PET, PLA, PS, paper, barriers, additives, inks, adhesives, etc.)

    Any others (PLA, PS, paper, barriers, additives, inks, adhesives, etc.)

    Any others (PET, PO, PLA, paper, barriers, additives, inks, adhesives, etc.)

     *Except in combination as multilayer structures in flexibles (only the main polymer should be considered).

  • What does it mean if technical information or packaging option is missing?

    The part 2 – Design for Recycling Incompatibilities – lists the various design options of packaging components in order to evaluate their compatibility with recycling. This listing gathers all options with a known compatibility that RecyClass tested and assessed.

    This fact-based approach means that some technical information might still be missing or incomplete, preventing the user to describe entirely its packaging. If a design option is missing in the list, the user is invited to contact RecyClass to test its packaging and assess its compatibility with recycling. The data generated will support the development of the guidelines and the Online Tool.

    A missing information does not mean that the design option is compatible with recycling but means that data needs to be generated to assess its compatibility.

    RecyClass is continuously performing test campaigns to aliment the guidelines and the Online Tool, and to reduce the grey areas. More information on the ongoing and scheduled campaigns is available on the RecyClass roadmap.

  • What do the results and the recyclability classes mean?

    RecyClass defined the meaning of “recyclability” and “recyclable packaging”, illustrated by a class ranking from “A” to “F” resembling the energy efficiency grading. Classes A, B and C are granted to packaging generating high quality recyclate, meaning incorporable back in its original application or usable for other circular applications, and therefore these packaging can claim their recyclability. On the other hand, packaging design classified with classes D, E and F cannot reach the requirements of circularity and will lower the quality of the recycling stream. Section 2.2. of the RecyClass Recyclability Methodology defines each recyclability class and the concept of circularity.

  • How could the sorting behaviour of plastic packaging be assessed?

    RecyClass developed a comprehensive and standardized Sorting Evaluation Protocol for all plastic packaging. In case of doubts, the sorting behaviour of packaging can be assessed in one of the sorting centres recognized by RecyClass. This testing will determine the recycling stream of the packaging and its sorting efficiency. The protocol and the sorting centres are available here.

  • What is the status of the various waste management systems (collection, sorting, recycling) in the European countries?

    The RecyClass Online Tool offers to all users a mapping of the various waste management systems established in Europe. This mapping covers collection, sorting, and recycling, as those three conditions must be fulfilled to claim the recyclability. The colour code is explained under the mapping.

    RecyClass is regularly updating the mapping based on the latest evolutions of the waste management systems, and in collaboration with the Certification Bodies and local authorities.

  • How to use the RecyClass Online-Tool for semi-finished packaging (e.g., for converters or raw material producers)?

    The RecyClass Online-Tool offers to possibility to assess all packaging features, including decorative technologies, inks, closure systems, lids, etc. Those components can indeed strongly impact the recyclability of the packaging and therefore the final design must always be assessed.

    However, semi-finished packaging can also be assessed with the Online Tool to ensure that at this interim stage the design is compatible with recycling. In this case it will not be possible to answer all questions (e.g., part 2 – DfR incompatibilities, Easy-to-Empty). The user is invited to consider only the relevant questions and negatively reply to the missing information (e.g., no label, no direct printing, no lid, or packaging not filled).

    The analysis will then confirm that the semi-finished packaging is compatible with recycling and can serve as a basis to receive an official Letter of Compatibility.

  • Can single packaging components – as a cap – be assessed?

    The pre-requisite to assess the compatibility with recycling is to know in which stream the packaging will get sorted and recycled. Recycling processes are indeed adapted to each type of plastic, leading to distinct design recommendations.

    Therefore, it is not possible to assess a single packaging component as both its connection to the main body and its recycling stream will be unknown. For example, the same dispenser used on a PET bottle or a HDPE bottle might end up with different recyclability score as the recommendations for the PET stream and the HDPE stream differ.

    Therefore, single components should be analysed taken into consideration their targeted packaging type(s). Several analyses must be performed if several scenarios or combinations are possible. Those combinations may lead to various compatibility results.

  • What is the recognition of the RecyClass Online-Tool across Europe and where does the harmonisation stand?

    RecyClass is deeply involved in the harmonization across Europe and worldwide. This is a key priority to strengthen, increase credibility and give a clear direction for design for recyclability policies within the plastic industry. The RecyClass Online Tool is widely used across Europe, because of its scientific-based information that RecyClass is continuously generating.

    RecyClass is constantly working with various stakeholders such as other associations, EPR schemes, Certification Bodies, and other organisations to promote harmonisation and guidelines’ alignment. Some of them already decided to endorse the RecyClass Recyclability Methodology, guidelines, and Online-Tool.

    Finally, harmonisation should be improved with the upcoming European legislations and standardizations on plastic packaging design and recycling.

  • Could other types of packaging materials (e.g., aluminium, paper) be evaluated with the RecyClass Online Tool?

    RecyClass works under the umbrella of Plastics Recyclers Europe and therefore has extensive expertise in the field of plastics and recycling. At the current moment, RecyClass does not aim to extend its scope to other packaging materials which should be managed separately by other specialist bodies.

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