Post Consumer vs Post Industrial Recycled Content

Post Consumer vs Post Industrial Recycled Content

You will need to become familiar with a few terms when understanding how sustainable packaging works for your business. Post consumer and post industrial recycled content are two terms that buzz around sustainability but have different meanings. The way they affect packaging is different too. Find out more about how post industrial waste and post consumer waste impact recyclable materials. 

What Is Post Industrial Waste?

Post industrial waste is generated from a manufacturing process, not a finished good, but typically when creating the final product. This waste can be excess plastic from water bottle production, additional paper from reem production, or aluminum shards from roll productions. The waste is a by-product of production processes.

What Is Post Consumer Waste? 

Post consumer waste refers to the waste generated after a finished good is used by consumers. Recyclable post consumer waste describes finished goods like stand up pouch packaging used by consumers and then recycled accordingly. For a finished good to be categorized as recyclable, it must be collected, sorted, reprocessed, and then reused. If not all qualifiers are met, the item is not considered recyclable and sent to a trash landfill. 

In some cases, items are recyclable save for two of the necessary descriptors: collection and sorting. There is no dedicated recyclable collection in some areas for people to set out bins for pick-up. Consumers are tasked with finding the recycling facilities for pet food or coffee bean packaging on their own and then sorting the materials once they are there. The process can be confusing and, if an error is made in the sort, the entire bin is directed to the landfill instead. 

Why Is Post Consumer Waste Preferred to Post Industrial?

Post consumer waste is preferred to post industrial waste because there is already a significant post industrial waste market in place. Post industrial waste is purer in production. It can be reused immediately in the same production process in which it was cut or pinched off initially. There are fewer contaminants to sort out, and the process is more streamlined for reuse.

By the time it reaches the consumer, it has been labeled, printed, and filled with many substances like perishables or cleaners. Some labels are easy to remove, while others are attached with extra strength adhesives. A larger pool for source materials is created by investing in post consumer waste. However, post consumer waste is far more contaminated than post industrial waste. By creating and building a market for that waste stream, sorters, brands, and reclaimers are more likely to work with the post consumer waste than for them to be landfilled. 

Post consumer recycled, known as PCR packaging, has already undergone its recyclable process. At the end of consumer consumption and use, it is at the end of its cycle. The only thing left for consumers is to dispose of the finished product properly. 

Before you choose the packaging for your business’s product, consider how post consumer and post industrial waste affect the overall sustainability of your company. 


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