The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers has established guidelines for cooperative testing to determine packaging recyclability.
The program, dubbed Champions for Change, allows APR to recognize companies that make efforts to design packaging with recycling in mind. Design for Recyclability guidelines are available by contacting Washington-based APR.
``This, by no means, is a certification process,'' said David Cornell, co-chairman for APR's technical committee and manager of plastics technology and recycling for Eastman Chemical Co. ``It is, however, a way to collect and share data with other recyclers and consumer product manufacturers on recyclability issues.
``While some results will be proprietary, enough information will be shared for all parties to draw the necessary conclusions,'' he said in a recent news release.
Some recent packaging trends, such as the use of PVC labels on PET or high density polyethylene bottles, have hurt recyclers.
However, APR officials lauded Pepsi-Cola Co. as a recent example of a company that cooperated with recyclers to improve the recyclability of a bottle.
Pepsi representatives presented APR with recyclability test results for the use of a barrier coating in small plastic bottles. APR and Pepsi also have discussed recyclability testing on a heat-transferred label being considered for Pepsi's The Grip bottle.
``This is a perfect example where companies and the APR can both benefit,'' Steve Babinchak, APR technical committee co-chair with Cornell, and president of St. Jude Polymers, said in the release.
``We were encouraged by Pepsi's cooperation with us and hope that they will continue to work with the APR as testing continues on their new packaging developments.''
The Pepsi Grip bottle is potentially the future bottle for all Pepsi 2-liter products because it is designed to be easier to hold, a Pepsi spokesman said. The company has advanced the bottle from a small trial in Michigan to a much-larger roll-out in Dayton, Ohio.
There are other options for the label, but heat transfer ``seems to be the best at this juncture,'' the spokesman said. Pepsi said the bottle can be recycled with the label, but some recyclers have raised concerns.
Cooperative testing represents a stronger industry position for APR.
``In the past, recyclers have had to settle for what packaging manufacturers have handed down to them,'' added Dennis Sabourin, chairman of APR and vice president of Wellman Inc., based in Shrewsbury, N.J.
APR is an association composed of companies that buy, reprocess and sell post-consumer plastics. Its membership includes independent recycling companies of all sizes and the recycling divisions of several major resin suppliers.