Why should you assess your packaging for recyclability?
Our services: Assessing, certifying and optimising packaging recyclability
We will analyse your packaging subject to mandatory participation and develop suggestions for improvement to achieve a future-oriented packaging design. With rotate, Noventiz’s own label, we have a modular solution for assessing and optimising the recyclability of your packaging.
What does the German Packaging Act say about recyclability?
Since 2022, the German Packaging Act has set specific recovery rates for different types of materials. One of the factors that can help to achieve the target rate is to design the packaging that is as recyclable as possible. This provision is in line with a number of EU measures to manage and reduce the amount of plastic waste generated. One of these measures is the additional “plastic tax” of 80 cents per kg of non-recycled plastic (for each Member State) from 2021. This will increase the importance of recyclable packaging design for businesses.
What are the minimum criteria for assessing recyclability?
In order to assess the percentage of material suitable for recycling, the following minimum requirements must be checked and taken into consideration:
Product protection and recyclability of ice-cream packaging by Mövenpick (Froneri)
I would be happy to advise you on how to assess recyclability. Ask for a quote now – no strings attached.
Interview: Here’s what an assessor says about the process of assessing recyclability
Interview with auditor Dipl.- Ing. Thomas Staudt from SRE GmbH. Thomas Staudt has worked in the field of materials and waste management assessment. He is one of the rotate auditors.
To assess recyclability, we need detailed information about the composition of packaging materials. This information is indicated on the packaging’s data sheet and confirmed by a packaging sample provided by the customer. Let’s take a plastic cup with a paper sleeve as an example. The question is: What is the percentage of each part? In order to measure the recyclability of packaging subject to mandatory participation, we follow the minimum standard set by the central register (Section 21, para. 3 of the German Packaging Act), which is revised annually.
Customers can upload the data sheet specifying the packaging materials through the Noventiz online portal. Once we have received a sample of the packaging, we will start to inspect and test it. We always use the applicable minimum standard set by the central register. Once we have assessed the level of recyclability, we issue a certificate, which is valid for two years. As a next step, the customer can ask us to optimise the packaging. Because we want to provide a reliable and realistic assessment, we will need to physically hold the packaging in our hands and look at it closely. This allows us to assess how the packaging would perform in a sorting facility. In my opinion, a mere online assessment is not as conclusive.
There are a number of factors:
1. Infrastructure: Is there infrastructure in place to sort the packaging? Are there any characteristics that would make it difficult to recycle, such as silicon cartridges for certain types of plastic? These questions are answered on the basis of the existing specifications. If a packaging meets certain specification criteria, it can be easily sorted.
2. A Sortability: Can the packaging be sorted in the plant using optical sensors, such as infrared technology? Different types of plastics, paper and board, composites, beverage cartons, glass, paper and wood can obviously be sorted. For packaging that does not clearly fall into one of these categories, we carry out specific optical sorting tests in our laboratory.
2. B Separability: To enable recovery, materials or their components must be sortable. This depends on criteria such as the density of polyolefins or the wet strength of paper packaging.
3. Incompatibility: Substances or combinations of materials that would not allow for successful recovery are not suitable. An example is polyethylene packaging with a PVC coating.
The exact level of recyclability is determined by the distribution of individual components in the packaging or the main recyclable material, which determines the level of recyclability at a particular facility.
Optimales Recycling beginnt bereits bei der Entwicklung von Verpackungen. Deshalb ist es wichtig, sich von Beginn an auch schon Gedanken über das Recycling der Verpackungen zu machen. Das wichtigste ist, dass man möglichst wenig unterschiedliche Materialien in einer Verpackung vereint. Je sortenreiner eine Verpackung ist, desto idealer ist es für das Recycling. Und dann muss man sich immer die Frage stellen: Ist eine Verwertbarkeit in bestehenden Verwertungswegen gegeben?
Thank you, Mr Staudt!
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FAQs on assessing recyclability
Packaging must be produced and distributed in such a way that the volume and mass of the packaging is kept to a minimum, and that reuse or recycling is possible. The main point is the increased rate compared with those in the Packaging Ordinance. They are 75% higher than those in the Packaging Ordinance for the reuse of plastics – with a lower suitability for recycling of plastic packaging.
- There must be an infrastructure for sorting the packaging.
- The high-value material in the packaging must be sortable, and the packaging components must be separable to allow effective material recycling.
- None of the materials contained in the packaging or packaging components must be unsuitable for recycling, thus preventing successful recovery.
Customers can upload the data sheet specifying the packaging materials through the Noventiz online portal. Once we have received the empty packaging, we will assess and test it. We always use the applicable minimum standard set by the central register. Once we have assessed the level of recyclability, we issue a certificate, which is valid for two years. As a next step, the customer can ask us to optimise the packaging.
In order to measure the recyclability of packaging subject to mandatory participation, we follow the minimum standard set by the central register. The assessment is based on the version of the minimum standard valid at the time of testing.
Our assessment is based on the infrastructure that exists in Germany. Each country has a unique system for collecting, sorting and recycling waste. If a country has a similar infrastructure, you can assume that the result will be valid there.
A certificate is valid for a minimum of two years from the date of issue. If the quality or quantity of the packaging changes from the components originally tested, the certificate will no longer be valid.
This is the empty packaging as a whole, including its components, such as labels, sealing foil, lids and closures, adhesive applications, etc. It is not permitted to assess the recyclability based on the theoretical separation of the packaging into its individual components. However, this rule does not apply to combination packaging.
Combination packaging is sales packaging consisting of several components made from different materials that can be manually separated.
After a positive assessment, you can add the rotate brand and seal with the recycling rate shown to the certificate.