Product Marketing – High expectations for products made of recycled plastic undermine the circular economy
Have we ever wondered why many products, especially in the field of packaging, continue to be produced with virgin raw materials?
There are aesthetic needs , apparently not derogable, established by the marketing protocols that want a product with a perfect appearance , in colors, texture and finish, the offspring of a production made with virgin raw materials, which have the purpose of satisfying the customer’s eye.
But is this exactly what the customer asks for a product for packaging or other products that even have a technical and non-aesthetic function, such as underground pipes or plastic pallets, or other similar products?
I do not believe. Let’s see some examples in which the 100% post-consumer recycled granule could be used and instead we continue with the virgin raw material or in some more virtuous cases we use a mixed compound.
– Irrigation pipes in HDPE and LDPE : it often happens that a product destined for the field, which will, over time, be attacked by the sun with consequent worsening of the external structure, reduction of color and covering of large portions by earth or mud , may become the subject of a dispute because the post-consumption granule, which may have some gas or residual humidity inside, leads to creating small bubbles on the surface of the tube .
This does not involve quality defects of the product, but only aesthetic, but sufficient to push the producer to make compounds with virgin or with post-industrial granules.
– Industrial boxes in HDPE and PP: the houses they are used for movement logistics or inside production activity warehouses, therefore they are not intended to be put on the sales market, but remain a means of work within companies. They are normally made of HDPE or PP in various colors. The most common are red, blue and gray.
The use of colored post-consumption granules could bring with it small aesthetic imperfections that manifest themselves in slight color fading, possible occasional black dots on the surface or small opaque areas.
Easy to incur in the rejection by the cassette manufacturer of post-consumption granules as if perfect aesthetics are important for the function of the cassette that remains in a warehouse.
Normally it is preferred to use a raw material from post-industrial waste or a compound mixed with virgin raw materials.
– Detergent bottles or industrial and agricultural liquids : the raw material normally used is HDPE, PP or PET .
On the blow molding market we can say that a timid opening to post consumer recycled products has been taking place in recent years, driven by the movements for the environment , which see the bottles of detergent in the store every day.
The impression is that this attention for recycled by bottle producers is dictated by precise choices to please their customers rather than an attention to the environment.
However, they are somewhat lame choices, as the post-consumption granule production industry has reached such a quality that it can offer a raw material that allows the production of bottles from 0.5 to 5 liters at 100% , but still today it focuses on compounds containing only 30% -50% of recycled material.
This only applies to some bottles and with some colors, because most of them are still made with virgin material.
The production of bottles with post-consumer recycled granule , especially in HDPE, could sometimes leave small areas of opacity in the color on the bottle, the absence of brilliance typical of the use of virgin raw material and the presence of perfume of typical detergent for post-consumption granules from separate collection.
Bottle manufacturers, considering the general consumption numbers of raw materials, continue to prefer virgin granules , especially in this period in which the cost of this is lower than the cost of the regenerated granule, but they are driven by the market to commit a percentage for green corporate image issues .
We could go on with many other examples on the lost opportunities of using the raw material from domestic waste instead of the virgin grain , but the aesthetic standards that marketing experts demand for their products are sometimes incompatible with the need to use the plastic waste and environmental protection.