Turning plastics into sustainable packaging with Post-Consumer Recycled Waste: The answer for a sustainable future?

Within packaging PCR generally stands for Post-Consumer Recycled material, a special kind of material that’s been made from Post-Consumer Waste that has been thrown away, gathered, cleaned, regrained, and re-extruded. In this case the material that’s been recycled is Polyethylene.

When discussing PCR, it’s often standard practice to include the percentage of PCR in the total film. Most PCR products are still at least partially made from freshly produced Polyethylene films, also called ‘prime’ or ‘virgin’ films. 

The reason for this is simple: the higher the percentage of PCR in the film, the more noticeable the effects this recycled film has on the product. 

This reason also makes it hard to answer stand-alone questions like:

  • How will this PCR material run on my machines?
  • How will this PCR material impact my brand’s packaging design?
  • How much does this PCR material cost?

All the questions above are directly dependent on the ratio between prime and PCR material. 

Packaging that’s made from large amounts of PCR (75%+) will definitely have noticeable effects: at the end of the day even the best recycling company will still have traceable amounts of dilution in their recycling streams. This is why films made from 100% PCR will always have tints or inefficiencies. 

And aside from surprisingly good performance the sustainable benefits are impressive: the reuse of materials cuts down on the use of fossil materials. Furthermore, the recycling process has a lower carbon footprint compared to the production of prime PE films (which is already very low compared to carton, glass and aluminum!). 

And last but certainly not least, every kg of waste that can be turned into PCR, is a kg less plastic for our environment to deal with. 


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