As the cost of virgin materials continues to increase, packaging recovery has never been as important as it is today. But recovery is also vital from a sustainability and environmental standpoint as well because more and more end consumers are looking for eco-friendly packaging that’s made from recycled materials, that is itself recyclable. For any packaging company looking to cut costs and improve sustainability practices, here are five ways you can improve packaging recovery rates.
1. Know What’s Recyclable in Your Major Markets
One of the best ways to improve packaging recovery is to increase recycling rates overall, and there are a few ways you can do this. To start, ask yourself these two questions: where does most of your packaging end up, and what's recyclable in those areas? For example, if you use a specific type of material that isn't recyclable in five of your major markets, then all that packaging will end up in the landfill instead of being recovered and recycled.
Determine the areas where most of your packaging ends up, and look into the capabilities of the recycling facilities in those areas. About 95 percent of Americans have access to recycling programs for at least some materials, but those programs don’t all process the same materials.
2. Use Packaging Materials that Are Recyclable
Once you know what is recyclable in the major markets where your packaging ends up, you can take steps to ensure that your packaging materials conform to the recovery and recycling capabilities of the facilities in those areas. For instance, if you currently use a material that isn't recyclable in many of your major markets, consider switching to a comparable packaging material that is. Making it easier for end users to recycle your packaging will drastically increase recycling rates, and this will result in more waste diverted from landfills and a greater packaging recovery rate for you.
3. Use Recycling Symbols
Another great way to increase recovery and recycling is to include appropriate recycling symbols on all your packaging. Unless end consumers know whether or not your packaging can be recycled, there's a good chance they’ll just throw it out, and that means it’s destined for the landfill instead of a recycling facility.
4. Use the Right Inks, Adhesives, and Paints
Main packaging materials, however, aren't the only barrier to recovery and recycling, because things like inks, paints, and adhesives can all affect whether a product can be recycled. For instance, while cardboard and paper products can be recycled in most municipalities, waxed paper products that are often used in the food and beverage industry cannot. The same holds true for other packaging and printing ingredients. Talk to the facilities in your major markets to inquire about the types of inks or paints and adhesives they can and cannot manage.
5. Find the Most Lucrative Collection Sources
Packaging manufacturers can use the same tactic that paper manufacturers have been using with success: locate reliable and nearby sources of recycled materials and use them for your recovered fibers.
Increasing your package recovery rate is good for business, good for your bottom line, and good for the environment. The key to increasing your recovery rate is to increase recycling, and you can do this by making sure your packaging is recyclable, making end consumers aware that it’s recyclable, and working in conjunction with facilities to ensure that as much of your packaging as possible can be recovered.
Controlling viscosity is the key to achieving high-quality and consistent finishes. Learn more about the tools and best practices of viscosity management by downloading your free copy of our Viscosity Control Buyer's Guide.