Through their commitment to the U.S. Plastics Pact, Activators are working to increase their usage of Postconsumer Recycled Content (PCR) and in effect, decrease their usage of virgin plastic. Strong and consistent demand for PCR is a key component in a circular economy. The U.S. Pact’s PCR toolkit was created to assist companies in making that conversion and taking an important step toward circularity.
U.S. Pact Background
As the world becomes increasingly aware of the problems of plastic waste, the concept of a circular economy has emerged as a solution to keep plastic in the economy and out of the environment. Recycling is one way to keep materials in the system.
To ensure that plastic is recycled:
- Packaging must be designed for circularity;
- Infrastructure and technology must be in place to collect and recycle it;
- There must be consistent demand for postconsumer resin (PCR); and
- Consumer participation is essential.
Without each of these tenets, valuable plastic will continue to be placed in landfills and not recycled. These principles are the basis for the U.S. Pact’s four targets.
What is PCR?
POSTCONSUMER RECYCLED CONTENT (PCR)
Proportion, by mass, of postconsumer (1) recycled material in a product or packaging. Note 1. ISO 14021’s usage of the term clarifies postconsumer material as material generated by households or by commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in their role as end users of the product which can no longer be used for its intended purpose. This includes returns of material from the distribution chain. Source: ISO 14021:2016 modified, Environmental labels and declarations — Self-declared environmental claims (Type II environmental labeling), Usage of terms, modified (focus on postconsumer recycled material)
Further explanatory notes:
a. While in a circular economy it is encouraged that pre-consumer waste is kept in the system, the priority is to avoid such pre-consumer waste as part of an efficient production process. This definition therefore excludes pre-consumer recycled content (ISO 14021, Usage of terms, Recycled content: Pre-consumer recycled content includes materials diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process).
b. Transparency on the nature of the recycled content (i.e., postconsumer versus pre-consumer) is to be ensured whenever possible.
c. As referred to in ISO 14021, the percentage of recycled material (by weight) shall be mentioned when a claim of recycled content is made, separately stating the percentage of recycled content used in products and packaging, without aggregating it.
d. Amounts and quality of packaging made out of recycled content should be in line with relevant food contact and health and safety regulations where a packaging is put on the market.
e. To verify or certify the use of recycled content, various verification systems from different assurance bodies exist.PCR Activator Actions
Why Use PCR?
- Environmental Benefits
- Benefits Calculator
- APR Graphics
- Consumer Perception
- U.S. Pact Requirement
- Legislation Requirements
- Finding a PCR Supplier
- Pricing Models for PCR
- Factors that Impact PCR Price
- Contract Considerations
- Purchasing Direct from PCR Supplier or Through a Plastic Converter
- Quality Considerations
- FDA requirements
- Converter preparation
- On-pack labeling
- Certification Position Statement
Join the U.S. Pact
PCR use is critical to achieving a circular economy in the plastics industry. Please contact us about joining the U.S. Pact if your organization is committed to keeping plastic in the economy and out of the environment.Contact Us
The U.S. Plastic Pact created this toolkit to assist U.S. Pact Activators in voluntarily purchasing postconsumer resin for their products and packaging. This toolkit does not contain any endorsements, recommendations, legal or financial advice, and should not be construed as such. The U.S. Pact and contributing authors are not liable for any business decisions that result from consulting this toolkit.