What is Post-Consumer Recyclate? Why Does It Matter to Me?

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

Finding new ways to use recycled plastics, or post-consumer recyclate, is as important as improving our recycling infrastructure. Companies like NOVA Chemicals and Merlin Plastics are finding innovative ways to build the supply of high-quality post-consumer recyclate that can be transformed into new products.

Every week when you fill your blue bin with empty juice bottles, gallon-sized milk jugs, and other plastic containers, you place it by the curb and trust the process. But wouldn’t it be more satisfying to know the process and have full confidence that your recycling habits are contributing to a more sustainable society?

Luckily, there are industry leaders that are thinking outside the blue bin and are spearheading initiatives that make consumers’ effort to recycle the first step in advancing a circular economy, and here you can see what those efforts actually look like.

Reusing Plastic Products to Make New Consumer Packaging

Post-consumer recyclate (PCR) can be understood as reused or repurposed plastics – once something is used, it is then post-consumer. Over the course of the last few years, the global demand for PCR goods has increased dramatically. Several consumer-packaged goods companies have pledged to increase the amount of PCR content in their plastic packaging to an average of 25 percent by 2025. In our backyard, NOVA Chemicals, a leading producer of plastic resin, joined together with Canada’s largest recycler, Merlin Plastics, to build the quantity and quality of PCR for consumer packaging. NOVA Chemicals is providing financing for a multi-million-dollar project for Merlin to use PCR for food applications. Today, most recycled plastic is used for industrial applications, such as plastic lumber.

Yet this doesn’t unlock the full potential of post-consumer recyclate. With the new NOVA Chemicals and Merlin Plastics partnership, there will be additional high-quality recyclate for use in everyday products and packaging. Think of it like this, your old milk jug could become packaging you actually get to see and feel, like that standup plastic pouch that holds granola, treats for your pet, or plant food.

Recycling Circle of Life

Industry leaders like NOVA Chemicals want to advance a circular economy for plastic materials. That’s why they’ve committed to enabling 100 percent of plastics packaging is recyclable or recoverable by 2030; and 100 percent of plastics packaging is re-used, recycled or recovered by 2040. The NOVA Chemicals and Merlin Plastics partnership represents just one of many investments the industry is making to ensure we function in a society that uplifts efficient and responsible recycling, while recognizing the value plastics bring to a circular economy.