The distinction between ‘recyclable’ and ‘recycled’ materials is a key factor in assessing a product's sustainability. Recyclable packaging is that which can be recycled at their ‘end-of-life’ stage. Recycled packaging, by contrast, is that which already contains previously recycled materials. A key additional term here is 'recycled content' which refers to the ratio of recycled material present in the new product, which can vary significantly across different products.
The ‘recyclable-recycled’ differentiation is also so important because so many recyclable products, unfortunately, don’t end-up being recycled! This can arise from a range of factors including contaminated items as well as incorrect processing of waste goods and packaging. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that a recyclable product will avoid a linear process from manufacture to single-use and disposal. By contrast, the benefit of recycled materials is clear. They are working examples of successful modern recycling processes. Guided by the principles of a closed-loop system, we’d hope for these materials to continue to be recycled again avoiding the lost value of down-cycling and providing renewed use and value for consumers. In the worst-case scenario that recycled materials are incorrectly disposed of thereafter, will can still conclude that recycling was successfully implemented prior to use.
At Westpak, we offer packaging solutions that utilise a wide range of materials, each with their own varying sustainable benefits and considerations. The most prevalent recycled materials we feature across our range includes moulded fibre, recycled paper/card, and recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET).
Moulded fibre, also referred to as 'pulp paper' or 'moulded pulp', is a commonly used packaging material made from recycled paperboard and other fibres. The material can be used for trays, punnets and other similar applications as well as for protective packaging. Recycled paper and card are prevalent in many applications across the packaging industry and beyond. By continuing the recycling process, materials are diverted away from being discarded. RPET, or 'recycled PET', is a plastic material widely used across the packaging industry for food products and other consumer goods. In addition, moulded fibre and recycled card also offer other environmentally friendly end of life options including being biodegradable and compostable.
Our team are also on hand to answer any questions you may have about incorporating recycled materials into your packaging inventory as well as advising on a range of other sustainability considerations.