The Rutgers University Center for Packaging and Resource Recovery has joined forces with trade organizations to establish design standards and guidelines to maximize the recyclability of plastic packaging. The Design for Recyclability project will focus on how packaging components, such as multiple layers, labels and adhesives, affect the recycling process. Project workers also will recommend ways of dealing with those components.
Richard Renfree, assistant professor at Rutgers in New Bruns-wick, N.J., and director of the year-long project, said the study will focus on what makes a package most conducive to recycling, and establishing laboratory testing methods for handling package materials.
The study is sponsored by the National Association for Plastic Container Recovery based in Charlotte, N.C.; the Tag and Label Manufacturers' Institute in Iowa City, Iowa; and the American Plastics Council in Washington.
Renfree said questionnaires were sent to recyclers on June 10. The center also seeks participation from end-users, consumer product makers and original equipment manufacturers.
``The effort is to get everyone on the same page,'' he said.
The study would focus on seals, inks and adhesives, and would not, at first at least, try to set standards for quality and content of recycled resins themselves, he said.
In 1994, the Washington-based Association for Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers issued guidelines for container makers and recyclers to standardize some designs. The guidelines suggested remedies such as using only water-soluble labels, and utilizing the same resin to make container caps and containers. While the guidelines were good, Renfree said, they did not speak to the actual processing changes or problems that might result.
Plastics Forming Enterprises Inc. of Manchester, N.H., will serve as a project subcontractor.