Tue June 6, 2017

Over-specification and other issues have held back the use of recycled content in a number of products, manufactured by a number of different companies. Kevin Cronin, vice president of sustainability and R&D with Ultra-Poly, offers his thoughts on what consumer products aren’t made with recycled plastic, but maybe should be.

A number of products on the market today are made with virgin plastic materials, but they could be just as effectively made with recycled plastic materials. In the last decade the quality and consistency of these materials has increased dramatically, according to Kevin Cronin, vice president of sustainability and R&D with Ultra-Poly, and brand owners should give recycled plastics a second look in order to align their material choices with what they really need their product to accomplish.

Below are some of Cronin’s thoughts on the markets into which recycled plastics could, and should, expand.

-Consumer Goods – Of course, Cronin isn’t referring to medical devices and other highly-regulated plastic applications, but when it comes to less demanding applications, most of these products don’t need to be made with the purest plastic material available. 

-Factory Equipment –This goes for industrial equipment as well. If it’s used to move something around or store something else, it might not need to be made with virgin material. “Pallets and skids and material handling components; those are all areas that have potential for increased used of recycled material,” Cronin said.

-Automotive – Plastics in automotive applications are hugely important to the industry, but when it comes to “nonstructural” and non-critical components, Cronin notes that there aren’t many reasons why these can’t be made with recycled plastics.

-Food Packaging – Recycled content is advancing to the point where it could soon be able to be used in a wider range of food contact packaging, and be able to perform as well as any package made with pristine virgin plastic material.

Learn more about the future of recycled content at Cronin’s presentation at the Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit.