Inteplast Engineered Films is seeing more and more demand for recycled content.
"Consumers want something that is more sustainable, and one of the easiest ways of doing this is to add recycled content. Everybody wants to see something that is recyclable or has recycled content," said Sumita Ranganathan, senior technical manager for Inteplast Engineered Films, a division of Inteplast Group.
"We continue to work with films with recycled content for a variety of applications," she said. "That need has evolved over time."
Customers originally pushed for post-consumer content, but now they are more comfortable with post-industrial content, Ranganathan said.
"[They] want a certain amount of recycled content," she said. "But, generally, they want it to be from a certifiable stream."
Inteplast Engineered Films is now offering up to 80 percent recycled content in some of the company's products.
"We really identified a while ago from a sales and marketing standpoint that sustainability was becoming more and more of an issue for our customers," said Steve Griggs, director of sales for the company.
"But this time, it felt different. And it's proven to be different. The consumers are willing to pay some kind of perceived premium. … The brand owners seemingly are committed to doing it. And, obviously, we want to do everything we can to aid and support them. We want to do the right thing for the environment," he said.
Inteplast Engineered Films uses the InteGreen brand name to identify products with recycled content. And the majority of demand for that recycled content is coming from industrial, nonfood contact these days.
"We found very few of our customers who either we're providing food-contact packaging to or who are making food-contact packaging with our films who are actively pushing [post-consumer] or [post-industrial] content. Where we are seeing PCR and PIR content is really on the industrial film side," Griggs said.
Whether it's PCR or PIR ends up coming down to individual company preference. "Some brand owners seem to want to be able to say 'post-consumer' and some of them are perfectly happy to say 'X percent of recycled content,' as long as it's certifiable," he said.
Ranganathan said, from an environmental perspective, she believes PCR and PIR plastics are on equal footing: "I think both of them have a place." Post-industrial plastics have a lower carbon footprint because it does not require "all of the collection apparatus" that PCR does.
With the increase in PCR resin over the past two to three years, some brands owners rethought views on PCR vs. PIR and landed on simply using recycled content, they said.
Most of Inteplast's PIR use comes from the company's internal manufacturing sources.
"But we are developing external sources quickly," Griggs said. "It's a double-edged sword. The more PIR we have, the worse things are going in production. We are at the point where we are actively pursuing multiple external PIR sources."
Inteplast has made a product with 80 percent recycled content at the company's Garland, Texas, plant, and the company runs other recycled content to varying degrees at all other manufacturing sites except the company's Orlando, Fla., location.
"It's all being driven by our customers and their customers — the consumer's desire for more sustainable packaging," Ranganathan said.