SUSTAINABILITY December 12th, 2022

Pre-consumer or post-consumer recycled materials for polybags and packaging?

We’ve all seen the “Recycled” mark on products and packaging before, but do you always know what type of recycling is it about and if it matters?

What is post-consumer recycling?

Let’s think about plastics. Post-consumer plastics basically means that discarded plastic items are collected, cleaned and repurposed at processing facilities that have the ability to turn the used plastic into new, recycled plastics.

By using post-consumer plastics to create new products, the amount of plastic waste is reduced and the production process is also more beneficial to the environment because it is not dependent on the use of fossil fuels as raw materials.

This is at the base of circular business models and circular fashion. For trims, a similar example would be the use of recycled materials, originating from garments delivered by consumers at collection centers, sorted and repurposed into new yarns and textiles.

As mentioned by the European Commission, “under the umbrella of post-consumer material, we can include most plastic waste currently being collected by the EU Member States EPR schemes and sent to recyclers”.

What is pre-consumer recycling?

Rejected, manufacturing discard, or leftover material that never meets the consumer is usually known as pre-consumer material. This type of waste is gathered and reintroduced in the manufacturing process. Because of its nature, this type of recycling can be considered a way to make production more efficient, as manufacturing excess, waste, and rejected sampling is reused.

An important mention of the European Commission in its “Guidance on Waste Definition”, about scrap “reworked materials such as regrind or scrap generated in a process and capable of being reclaimed within the same process that generated it, are not defined as pre-consumer material according to the standards. These materials are likely to fulfill the legal criteria of being a by-product.” That is why the European Commission guidance material mentions that the “pre-consumer materials” “refers to a waste discarded from the production process”.

What is the best choice?

Recycling is in general a great choice. Post-consumer plastics are the best choice because of its circular attributes, but correct signage and waste collection are critical in order to make post-consumer packaging even a viable option is crucial.

The UK Plastic Tax is a way to put pressure on brands to reconsider their choices, reduce waste and encourage recyclability. See how Crew Clothing chose 100% recycled bags for their product packaging.

Which polybag to choose?

At Trimco Group, we can provide brands with different solutions, where both post-consumer plastics are used, but also more innovative solutions where biobased materials are introduced, such as polybags made from 50% sugarcane, where thanks to that, the use of fossil fuels is reduced.

Get in touch to know more about your options for polybags.