Glossary & Regulations
Biocomposites are composites consisting of a
polymer and fibre, of which one or both can be
biobased. The polymer can be either biobased or
fossil based, and the fibre can be either natural or
synthetic. Examples of natural fibres include flax,
hemp, wood, cotton, coconut etc.
Biodegradable plastics break down under specific
conditions within a defined period of time. The
material decomposes by microorganisms into water, carbon dioxide, methane and sometimes biomass. Biodegradable material can be either biobased or made of fossil fuels, the term ‘biodegradable’ only indicates the end-of-life of the material.
Compostable plastics come from renewable materials and break down through composting. Compostable plastics are made from polylactic acid (PLA). PLA is made from dextrose, a sugar produced by plants. Currently, the most common raw material for PLA is field corn, although other plant sources may be used in the future. Compostable plastics are the best choice for foodservice ware that will have food residue. For example teabags or coffee pads.
The collection, sorting and (mechanical) reprocessing of used materials into new products.
Recycled plastic suitable for use in new products.
Form of recycling in which plastics are separated
based on polymer type and then shredded into
pieces, washed and remelted into granulates.
Chemical recycling is a range of emerging technologies in the waste management industry which allow plastics to be recycled, that are difficult or uneconomic to recycle mechanically. By turning plastic waste back into base chemicals and chemical feedstocks, chemical recycling processes have the potential to dramatically improve recycling rates and divert plastic waste from landfill or incineration.
Being recyclable means that, in theory, the material of the package can be used in the production of new products. However, for a package to be actually recycled, it must be correctly disposed, collected, sorted and recycled.
Design for recyclability
Several factors may hinder the recycling process or influence the quality of the recyclate. It is important to take these into account when designing products.
Regenerative system in which products and
materials flow in cycles without loss in quality or
quantity. A circular economy aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times.
Black colourant for plastics, usually found in darker colours because it is cheap and has a very deep colour. Carbon black absorbs near infrared (light) used for material detection in recycling and can therefore not be recycled.
Carbon black free
Carbon-free pigments enable full detectability of black (and other dark coloured plastics). This means that black plastics are being recycled and not incinerated. Carbon-free pigments enable full-detectability of black and dark coloured plastics on recycling sorting machines.
Treatment of materials and products after disposal. For packaging, materials can be reused, recycled, incinerated or dumped as landfill.
Life cycle thinking
An approach that goes beyond only considering
environmental impacts during production of
products, considering the impacts of all life cycle
phases. Life cycles phases typically consist of: raw
material sourcing, production, distribution, usage
- UN Sustainable Development Goals
- Paris Agreement on climate change
- Basel Convention
- New Plastic Economy
- European Strategy for plastics in a circular economy
- Plastic Pacts (UK, FR, NL)
- German Packaging Act (Verpack G)
EU plastic bag directive
Set: UN Sustainability goals
Set: Paris Action on Climate Change
Set: New Plastic Economy (NPE)
Chinese ban on plastic waste imports
Set: European Strategy for Plastics
Set: Plastic Pacts (NL, UK, FR)
German Packaging Act (Verpack G)
UN export restrictions on hard-to-recycle plastics
Tarief differentiatie (NL)
EU Waste Framework Directive
EU – tax on non-recycled plastic packaging waste (0.80€/kg)
July: EU – Single use plastics & oxo-degradable ban
April: UK – tax on plastic packaging, which contains less than 30% recycled plastic (200 BP/ton)
Italy – tax on non-recyclable plastic packaging (0.45€/kg), except: recycled material
Spain – tax on non-reusable plastic packging (0.45€/kg)
EU – Tethered caps for beverage bottles up to 3 litres
25% rPET in PET-beverage bottles
50% effectively recycled plastic packaging
77% collection rate for single use beverage bottles
EU – 90% collection rate for single use beverage bottles
30% rPET in PET-beverage bottles
55% effectively recycled plastic packaging
All plastic packaging should be recyclable or reusable
EU – The Circular economy action plan is realized & Circular economy is implemented
Due to the rapid evolution of the sustainability into the packaging sector as well as local differences of recycling processes and law, information provided within this document are for information only.
We advise you to check your local regulation’s update.