Recycled Plastic PCR: A Smart Choice for Eco-Friendly Packaging
By 2025, scientists predict that there will be an accumulation of more than 11 billion tons of plastic waste in the environment. Plastic pollution is so bad now that microplastics have been found in 98% of collected rainwater samples and the air we breathe.
The chemicals in these plastics are toxic to us, to our wildlife, our soils, and our sea life. 100,000 marine animals get killed by plastic consumption alone annually. And when the fish we eat consume plastic, that means we’re eating plastic too.
The win-win solution is post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR). Plastic is a problem. But, that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes we need it for functional purposes.
PCR offers the functionality of plastic while creating a circular consumption pattern. It offsets the addition of plastic to our environment.
In this guide, we’ll break down what PCR is and how it can benefit your business and the environment. Learn more below!
What Is PCR (Post Consumer Recycled Plastic)?
Post-consumer recycled plastic is new plastic manufactured from old plastics. These old plastics get used, cleaned, and repurposed into fresh products. Reusing old plastics reduces the carbon footprint of packaging.
The carbon footprint measures the negative impacts of a process on the environment. Producing PCR has a 60% lower footprint than regular plastic.
The plastics recycled on land get transported to a facility where their lifespan extends. Instead of disposal, these recycled plastics go from waste to PCR lids, tubes, bottles, and more!
How Is Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Made?
Post-consumer recycled plastic is either made of mixed materials or 100% plastic. You’ll find different compositions available. The “post-consumer” in PCR is referring to anything that was once previously used and loved before.
Recycled materials are first sourced from all over. In private homes, consumers recycle plastics like detergent bottles, milk cartons, and even another PCR packaging. The same process adheres in grocery stores. In shopping malls, employees and consumers toss recyclables into their respective compartments.
Sometimes PCR materials get sourced from waste via “community cleanups.” Good samaritans will clean up plastics on or in oceans, forests, and more. After, local recycling facilities will collect all of the plastics.
They take them to production facilities where they sort items into bales based on their primary material. The bales then get treated based on their composition. In the case of plastics, these materials get melted down.
Sometimes they grind plastics into micro-sized pellets. These are then reshaped and molded into brand new items.
These PCR pellets can form a variety of items. They are especially popular for manufacturing PCR packaging.
Is There Any Difference Between PCR and Other Recyclable Packaging?
PCR plastic and recyclable plastic are not the same. Their manufacturing process differs. Some PCR packaging consists of plastic films from previous recyclables.
Because these packages are already made of recycled materials, they can’t always get recycled again. While this may sound bad, it isn’t necessarily the case.
What this means is brands fulfill the recycling step for consumers. Brands remove the onus from the consumers to recycle, as not all consumers do recycle.
However, this is not the case for all PCR plastic. Some PCR materials are made from recyclables and can also get recycled and renewed again. PCR plastics withstand two lifecycles before the materials are too worn out for repurposing. This extends the life of something that would have otherwise been thrown out.
Recyclable packaging can be made from plastic but also paper, metal, or glass. Recyclable packaging also offers its own share of benefits. Some cosmetics companies offer auto refills when consumers bring their reusable packaging to the stores.
They will bring in a glass bottle and the store will refill the product at a lower cost. It is a triple win. The environment has less waste, the consumer receives a discount, and the corporation is making sustainability strides.
The downside with recyclable packaging is that because these packages are usually new, it requires the expenditure of fresh raw materials which outputs plenty of waste. It also puts the responsibility of recycling in the consumer’s hands. Some Eco-conscious consumers will be responsible and recycle or reuse, but some will not which exacerbates our environmental waste issues.
Pros of Post Consumer Recycled Plastics:
- Gives the company more control over their carbon footprint
- Connect with environmentally conscious consumers
- Add value for employees and consumers with environmental responsibility
- Less expensive
Cons of Post Consumer Recycled Plastics:
- Sometimes can only be reused or recycled 1-2 more times
Pros of Recyclable Plastics:
- Gives consumers the power and awareness to make a positive environmental impact after a purchase
- Can be reused or turned into PCR plastic
Cons of Recyclable Plastics:
- More expensive
- Consumers don’t always know where or how to recycle
- Products made from new raw materials thus increasing carbon footprint
The Benefits of Using Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Packaging
Post-consumer recycled plastic has many benefits to other packaging alternatives. It is easy to source today and can be made into nearly any product for all of your packaging and product needs. Learn more about the benefits of PCR plastics below.
Even though PCR plastic is a premium offering compared to regular, new plastic packaging, it comes at a lower cost. This is because PCR plastics are made from already existing materials that are melted and molded into a new product.
Companies have taken initiative to make recycling more accessible. This means reduced costs across the supply chain and shifting the perception of sustainability from “premium” to the new normal.
Working with PCR plastics eliminates the major expense of extracting and formulating new raw materials, which is one of the greatest costs in the packaging supply chain.
Despite the lower cost of goods for your business, you can actually see better margins when implementing PCR packaging. Consumers are more likely to choose a sustainable option when it comes to packaging and are willing to pay a higher price for a greener product.
If you can market the attributes of your packaging decisions and how they positively impact the environment, consumers will justify a slightly higher price point. So not only will your costs go down with PCR plastics, but your profits can potentially increase, too.
Better for the Environment
If you want to lower your corporation’s carbon footprint, choosing sustainable packaging is one of the easiest and most effective ways to do so. It helps create a circular production cycle for packaging while still offering the same benefits as regular plastic packaging. From an environmental perspective, PCR plastic offers the greatest harmony of function and sustainability.
While biodegradable and compostable options like paper and glass are also fantastic sustainable packaging options, some features of plastic are necessary.
For example with reusable beauty product packaging a brand would need something:
- Travel friendly
PCR plastic offers all of these features that other materials can’t deliver. It reserves the integrity of the product while still being a more sustainable option.
Connect with Consumer Values
The majority of consumers, about 73%, say that they want to make the effort to choose more sustainable options when presented with them.
If you use or hope to use PCR packaging, you need to be shouting it from the rooftops. You need to state what is obvious for consumers to take note of, otherwise, you can be making all of these positive decisions but they are not registering on consumers’ radars.
Make sure to connect your sustainability initiatives beyond your packaging throughout your brand. Your packaging is a wise start but consider other sustainable initiatives like planting a tree or a greener supply chain. when your brand has a socially responsible story, consumers engage, listen, learn and purchase from those brands.
This strategy helps you retain and expand your consumer base.
Promote Responsible Shopping Habits
As a company, you probably have more influence than you expect. You may use your eco-friendly reusable packaging as a canvas to share your own commitment to sustainability.
Educate consumers on how this packaging choice has a 60% carbon footprint reduction. Or tell them that their box is made of 20 recycled plastic water bottles. Qualitative statistics instill a level of trust and curiosity in the consumers.
If your sustainable packaging is educational and inspiring there will be a ripple effect on consumers. They will be more likely to continue the cycle and make greener decisions each day.
Make the Switch to Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic
Post-consumer recycled plastic is a better option for businesses, consumers, and our environment. It is a no-brainer to incorporate post-consumer recycled plastic into a supply chain.
You can save your brand expenses while also boosting the reputation of your company as a green industry leader. Check out our selection of post-consumer recycled plastics today!