Proportion, by mass, of recycled material in a product or packaging. Only pre-consumer and post-consumer materials shall be considered as recycled content.
Reprocessing, by means of a manufacturing process, of a used packaging material into a product, a component incorporated into a product, or a secondary (recycled) raw material; excluding energy recovery and the use of the product as a fuel.
Source: ISO 18604:2013 – Packaging and the environment
Further explanatory notes
a. This includes both mechanical (maintaining polymer structure) and chemical (breaking down polymer structure into more basic building blocks, e.g. via chemical or enzymatic processes) recycling processes.
b. It explicitly excludes technologies that do not reprocess materials back into materials but instead into fuels or energy. Chemical recycling can be considered in line with a circular economy if the technology is used to create feedstock that is then used to produce new materials. However, if these same processes are used for plastics-to-energy or plastics-to-fuel applications, these activities cannot be considered as recycling (according to ISO), nor as part of a circular economy. For a chemical recycling process, just like for the production of virgin plastics, no hazardous chemicals should be used that pose a significant risk to human health or the environment, applying the precautionary principle.
c. A high quality of recycling and of recycled materials is essential in a circular economy, where one aim is to keep materials at their highest utility at all times. This maximises the value retained in the economy, the range of possible applications for which the material can be used, and the number of possible future life-cycles. It therefore minimises material losses and the need for virgin material input.
Material diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process. Excluded is reutilization of materials such as rework, regrind or scrap generated in a process and capable of being reclaimed within the same process that generated it.
Material generated by households or by commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in their role as end-users of the product which can no longer be used for its intended purpose. This includes returns of material from the distribution chain.
Washing the containers will help reduce odour, flies and rodents. Squashing the containers will free up more space in the recycling bin.
Generally, removing bottle caps and lids is a good recycling habit, because their recyclability depends on the equipment your local recycler uses and what the lid is made of. Often, it’s as much a safety issue as a recycling issue; the pressure that builds up in a sealed plastic bottle can blow a whole bale of plastic and potentially injure workers.
There are various ways in which recycling figures can be analysed. Some researchers prefer “Input Recycling” – which measures the tonnage of recyclables collected for recycling. Others advocate for using “Output Recycling” figures, i.e. the actual amount of material that was processed and sold as new raw material, after the recycling process for the purpose of understanding material flow.
Both ways of measuring offer their own advantages and disadvantages. In Europe, they prefer calculating the percentage of collected waste that is sent away for recycling, i.e. Input Recycling. Because we are often compared with Europe, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) agreed that it makes sense for us to follow the same methodology as our European counterparts when reporting on the recycling rate of plastics, paper, glass and cans.
Reuse of packaging is the operation by which packaging is refilled or used for the same purpose for which it was conceived, with or without the support of auxiliary products (1) present on the market, enabling the packaging to be refilled.
Source: ISO 18603:2013, Packaging and the environment