Don’t be fooled; for all its “greenness”, recycling is a business. Recyclers have to have an end market for their products or they will not be willing to continue recycling. As we get better at curbside and commercial recycling—building up reliable wastestreams—there still needs to be a requirement for the end products. So how does that happen? I believe that brands are going to lead the way by creating markets for these recycled materials! An example below is from Target’s presentation at SustPack 2017 in which one of their Sustainable Packaging Goals is to “Create more demand for recycled packaging by creating new end markets…”
Did you know that plastic recyclers cannot recycle a yellow plastic bottle? The market for anything other than clear, translucent green and translucent blue is very small and anything other than these can be hard to sort out and contaminate streams that have value. It’s important to understand what aspects of a package design can negatively impact its’ recyclability. The Association of Plastic Recyclers has a useful design guide which can guide your design and development plans towards an easily (and not yellow) recyclable package.
And here’s a link to a helpful design book called: Packaging Sustainability: Systems and Strategies for Innovation Package Design at Brand Packaging