In 2019, several players from the value chain of plastics packaging joined forces in the RecyClass Platform initiative, aimed at advancing plastic packaging recyclability within Europe.
Together, they created harmonised Design for Recycling Guidelines, a scoring method, and test protocols to assess the recyclability of plastics packaging and of new packaging technologies in the European market. RecyClass also provides specific recommendations on how to improve packaging design to fit current recycling technologies and the testing of innovative materials.
Using these guidelines provides more clarity to designers about how to create recyclable packaging, and for brands and converters to assess the recyclability of their existing specific packages.
Yet while self-assessment is a highly useful first step, Recyclass is now taking moving ahead to the next: certification of this self-assessment by a third party. In order to operationalize this certification, RecyClass will rely on a series of recognised Certification Bodies throughout Europe, that are qualified to assess packaging according to RecyClass method.
Three organisations have already expressed their interest in becoming Certification Bodies: plastship, a subsidiary of RIGK GmbH, a German recycling scheme operator with a digital services network to increase plastics recyclate uptake and to foster the European circular economy; RECOUP, a leading authority providing expertise and guidance across the plastics recycling value chain; and SUEZ.Circpack, which advises brands, retailers and packaging converters who want to opt for recyclable packaging, and certifies the recyclability rate of specific packaging.
The auditors will be qualified via an Accreditation Course in compliance with the Procedures and Quality Management Systems for Recyclability Certification.
According to Gian de Belder, chairman of the Advisory Board of RecyClass, this new system will be a big improvement.
“Brand owners and packaging companies typically work cross-border. So far, we have seen that many different regional guidelines and scoring methods were in place. These differences made it almost impossible to make choices that would serve all markets. Now the value chain can really focus on improving recyclability of packaging for the whole of Europe,” he said.
The collaboration also focuses on the development of sorting protocols and the establishment of a database of collection schemes across Europe, which will also be considered when assessing the recyclability of a package.