When you want to know about plastics recycling, the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) would undoubtedly be your go-to group. APR represents more than 90% of the post-consumer plastics recycling capacity in North America. Its members include purchasers, recyclers and reclaimers of collected plastic bottles.
APR understands the need to be a representative for plastic recyclers on solid waste and packaging initiatives that may impact the industry. It also knows the importance of speaking out for its members and actively engaging legislative decision-makers about issues facing the industry.
Its mission is clear—in order for the plastics recycling industry to grow and be sustainable, the volume of plastic that can be recycled back into marketable products must dramatically increase. Moreover, to be successful in this effort, the quality of the stream should be protected. Keeping contaminants out of the materials destined for reprocessing is crucial in order to ensure the recyclability of otherwise “good” plastic.
Recognizing that in order to achieve its mission it requires a cooperative effort, APR works with the food and packaging industry, environmental community, recycling industry, and government to ensure the long-term success of recycling. It also actively participates in forums to exchange ideas, experience and knowledge on recycling alternatives.
“The Voice of Plastics Recycling”
APR supports its members and plastics recycling through several member-driven committees.
- The Association’s two Technical Committees—PET Recycling and Olefin Plastic Recycling—support its members with a range of undertakings. These include: maintaining the APR Design™ Guide for Plastics Recyclability; developing and maintaining test methods to aid packaging innovators, and, developing model bale specifications. The Technical Committees also undertake special programs that are of broad interest to APR members, such as evaluating methods for separating mixed PP and PE plastics and updating lifecycle analyses for PET and HDPE.
- Its Communications Committee supports APR’s efforts to be the “The Voice of Plastics Recycling” with a goal of increasing quality supply through communication and education. The committee develops general public and industry information to ensure that the public understands how plastics can be recycled and fosters greater participation in collection programs.
- APR’s Film Reclamation Committee develops and implements strategies and tactics that boost polyethylene film recovery and markets. The committee works with stakeholder groups to advance its mission, including ACC's Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG) and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) to promote APR's message that plastic film is recyclable, regardless of how it is collected.
- APR created the Rigid Plastics Recycling Program to stimulate recycling of rigid plastics beyond #1 and #2 bottles. Rigid plastic recycling “stakeholders” - collectors, recyclers, brand users, resin producers and public policy makers – have joined together to address the issues, concerns, problems and possible solutions.
Enriching Recycling through Plastics Education
APR is well known for its education programs benefiting a wide audience—industry, the general public, state and local solid waste management officials, legislators, and others.
One recently video, Baling Recycled Grocery Rigid Plastics, targets grocery stores with the message about how to generate revenue through baling and recycling rigid plastics. As Liz Bedard, director of the APR Rigid Plastics Recycling Program, states “there is great value in grocery store plastics and we want to make it easy for grocers to see how they can enhance the value of the material by baling it.”
An APR website devoted to recycling grocery rigid plastics contains additional resources.
APR is a partner in PlasticFilmRecycing.org and the Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP) which are designed to increase plastic film packaging recycling. An online Drop Off Directory helps people locate opportunities for plastic film recycling. The PlasticFilmRecycling.org site also offers information for businesses and communities wanting to establish collection programs, including tip sheets and sample promotional materials.
Among its many plastics marketing resources, is APR’s Plastic Recycling Market Information and Services Directory; a complete directory of materials that APR Members purchase and sell, as well as the services (grinding, densifying, washing, pelletizing, compounding and solid stating) offered.
Its Champions for Change™ Program encourages innovators to conduct testing and confirm any impact of new plastics designs and components on recycling. APR’s Plastics Recycling Showcase highlights innovations that support the plastics recycling industry.
APR even has a Kid’s Recycling Zone for recycling information, “super hero” training, and magic tricks.
APR became a Sustaining Member of NERC in 2014. States Ms. Bedard, “we want the general public, state officials, and others to understand how plastics can be recycled and to encourage participation in collection programs. We know NERC supports these efforts and works to promote recycling through its many projects, and being an active member of NERC has been a meaningful step in achieving these goals.”