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A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology


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Pollution is nothing but


the resources we are not
harvesting. We allow them
to disperse because weve
been ignorant of their value.

R. Buckminster Fuller
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A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology


The work upon which this publication is based was funded, in whole, through grants awarded by the
California Department of Conservation and GreenBlue through its Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

The statements and conclusions of this report are those of GreenBlue and not necessarily those of
the Department of Conservation or its employees. The Department makes no warranties, express or
implied, and assumes no liability for the information contained in the succeeding text.

The Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology is issued as is and with all faults. We
give no express warranties, guarantees or conditions. You may have additional rights under local
laws which this disclaimer cannot change. However, to the extent permitted under applicable
laws, the Green Blue Institute makes no warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including
but not limited to, any implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose or
noninfringement.

The Scrap Specifications Circular 2008 is 2008 Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI), 1615
L Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036, and portions were used by permission. ISRIs Scrap
Specifications Circular is subject to change; therefore, readers should contact ISRI or go to http://www.isri.
org/specs to make certain they are reading the most recent version of the Scrap Specifications Circular.

Closing the Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology


Closing the Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology was developed by GreenBlue, a nonprofit
institute that works with the private sector to enable the positive redesign of industrial systems. Copyright 2009 by
the Green Blue Institute, Charlottesville, Virginia. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced
in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and
retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.

Copyright 2009 GreenBlue


600 East Water Street, Suite C
Charlottesville, VA 22901
tel 434.817.1424 | fax 434.817.1425
www.greenblue.org | info@greenblue.org
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Table of Contents
Introduction + Scope..............................................................................................................1

How to Use This Document................................................................................................2

Aluminum.................................................................................................................................... 4

Glass...............................................................................................................................................7

Steel..............................................................................................................................................10

Polyethylene Terephthalate...............................................................................................13

High-density Polyethylene................................................................................................16

Low-density Polyethylene / Linear Low-density Polyethylene.......................19

Polyproplylene........................................................................................................................22

Paper...........................................................................................................................................25

Glossary.....................................................................................................................................28

References................................................................................................................................34

Photo Credits..........................................................................................................................35
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Introduction + Scope

Introduction
According to the Sustainable Packaging To help solve this problem, the Guide to The Guide to Packaging Material Flows and
Coalitions Definition of Sustainable Packaging Material Flows and Terminology Terminology contains information only about
Packaging, one of the criteria to achieving defines the major packaging materials and packaging materials produced and recovered
sustainable packaging is that materials must introduces the various terms and synonyms in the United States. In the material flow
be effectively recovered at the end of their that are applied to the materials during the maps, waste generation figures are used as a
useful life, and then re-used in industrial or life cycle phases of production, use and proxy for production. Both waste generation
biological cycles. To make this happen, it collection, and reprocessing. The Guide and recovery figures for packaging materials
is critical to connect packaging design and also presents the current life cycle of each in municipal solid waste are from 2007. (EPA
manufacture with the available end-of-life material in graphic form to demonstrate the 2008b)
recovery systems, creating a closed loop flow of the packaging material from resource
material system. Often, however, in the United extraction to its eventual fate at end-of-life,
States, the two ends of the packaging supply highlighting the existing gaps standing in the
Project Team
Project Manager: Elizabeth Shoch
chain the packaging designers and the way of an ideal closed-loop system.
Advisors: Martha Stevenson, Jason
recyclers do not communicate effectively
Pearson and Erin Malec
with each other, materials are sent to landfill,
or otherwise wasted, and a closed-loop
Scope of Guide Designer: Stephanie deSocio
The packaging materials profiled in the
system is never realized.
Guide are aluminum, glass, steel, high- Thanks to all of our reviewers and
density polyethylene, low-density and linear contributors from within the Sustainable
One of the barriers to effective communication
low-density polyethylene, polyethylene Packaging Coalition community and beyond!
along the packaging supply chain is the lack
terephthalate, polypropylene, and paper.
of a common lexicon for packaging materials.
The same material is often called by different
The profiled materials were chosen based on
terms during the design, manufacture, use,
both the U.S. production quantity (by weight)
collection, and reprocessing phases of the
of the material used in packaging applications,
packages life cycle.
as well as availability of recovery statistics
provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection
This absence of commonly understood
Agencys Municipal Solid Waste in the United
terminology hinders discussions along the
States: 2007 Facts and Figures report. (U.S.
supply chain. For example, it is confusing for
EPA 2008b). The profiled materials were also
municipal managers seeking to communicate
selected because they are currently the most
to consumers which materials should be
commonly recycled materials in that they
placed in their recycling bins, and recyclers
can be recovered and processed in adequate
are unable to communicate to packaging
quantities with reasonable costs, and there are
designers about why a package is not
existing end markets for the post-consumer
currently recyclable given the constraints of
recycled material. As improvements are
recycling infrastructure. A comprehensive
made toward a comprehensive closed-loop
list of packaging material types would help
recovery system for packaging in the United
to close this communication gap and allow
States, additional materials currently produced
for more productive discussions along the
in smaller quantities and/or those not yet
supply chain.
collected for recycling or composting may be
added to the Guide.

1 closing The Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology 2009 GreenBlue
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How to Use This Document

General Information Terminology


The major materials used for packaging each have a dedicated section in the document. The terminology section is divided into three phases of the materials life cycle:
Each material is divided further by either color (e.g. clear or green) or application (e.g. Production, Use and Collection, and Reprocessing. The various terms are listed by phase
bottle or film), depending on which is more appropriate to the material. These divisions are of the life cycle and are cross-referenced by color or application using the colored boxes
indicated in the key located along the left side of each page. Within each materials section, from the key.
there are four main features: Material Description, Terminology, Material Flow Maps and
Contextual Pie Charts.
The distribution of packaging
Material Flow Maps by color or application is
The flow maps reflect the current life cycle of materials in the U.S. as informed by 2007
reflected in the Use phase
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency statistics. (U.S. EPA 2008b) As per the U.S.
on the diagram. Packaging
EPA MSW Characterization Methodology (U.S. EPA 2008a), the portion of the maps
designed for reuse skips
encompassing Sort, Reprocessing, and Other Beneficial Use includes both recyclables
directly from collection back
sold within the U.S. as well as exported.
to production

The common contaminants


The major raw materials or In these maps, the amount of packaging introduced during Collection,
inputs for virgin production used and collected in the U.S. is a proxy which inhibit sorting and
are listed under Resource for Production. The production arrow reprocessing, are listed under
Extraction. includes packaging produced in the U.S., Contaminants.
as well as imported packaging, minus any
U.S.-produced packaging exported.

The material that is lost from the system


is reflected as Litter or Discard. Discard
includes both landfill and incineration
The portion of the material (with or without energy recovery).
that is composted or Because litter is difficult to measure and
reprocessed back into there are few sources of comprehensive
Where a material is not
packaging or into other data, this document assigns a small
reprocessed back into
beneficial uses follows after amount of litter equally to each
packaging or reused, the most
the sort phase. packaging material. The actual amount
common Other Beneficial
of litter of any particular material may be
Uses for each material are
more or less than the amount shown in
listed on the diagram.
the graphic.

2 closing The Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology 2009 greenblue
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How to Use This Document

Contextual Pie Charts


Each Material Flow page includes two pie charts. The first pie chart reflects the amount of The data for each materials pie chart varies by year and source; sources and dates are cited.
U.S. packaging made from the material as a percent by weight. The second pie chart reflects The production data is also labeled as to its scope, U.S. or North America. This information
packaging as a total amount of the material produced. was included to help the reader put each material into the larger context of both packaging
materials and material production in general within the U.S.

Other
1.8 million tons
2.7% by weight

PP Amount of total U.S.


2.04 million tons material production that
2.9% by weight is used for packaging
(% by weight)
PET
2.96 million tons Glass
4.2% by weight 11.47 million tons
16.4% by weight
LDPE/LLDPE
3 million tons Aluminum
4.3% by weight 1.87 million tons
2.7% by weight
HDPE
4.15 million tons Steel
5.9% by weight 2.68 million tons
3.8% by weight
Paper
39.94 million tons
57.1% by weight

Packaging materials, as a percent Packaging material, as a percent by weight


by weight of all U.S. packaging of all U.S. production of that material
(U.S. EPA 2008b) (U.S. EPA 2008b)
(Sample graphic for illustration purposes)

3 closing The Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology 2009 GreenBlue
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Aluminum

Key
Other
Foil and Closures
Beverage Containers

Material Description Common Packaging Applications


Aluminum used in packaging is an alloy of aluminum metal and magnesium. The chief primary
source of aluminum is bauxite ore, which is refined by the Bayer process to produce alumina.
Beverage cans
Caustic soda, calcined lime, and pitch are added to the alumina and carbon anodes made from
coke convert it to aluminum metal via the Hall-Heroult smelting process. For recycled aluminum, Containers
scrap aluminum and hardening agents are also added.
Pouches

The aluminum alloy serves as the feedstock for casting processes or wrought processing. Multi-laminate packages
Wrought processing begins with the casting of an ingot or billet that is then worked to
Aseptic packages
shape via processes such as rolling, extrusion, and forging. The majority of aluminum used in
packaging is used as beverage containers. Other applications include foils and components of Foils
multi-layer/composite packaging.
Aluminum aerosol cans

Aside from packaging, aluminum is also used in transportation (automobiles, airplanes, trucks, railcars, Cosmetics packaging (caps, tubes, fitments)
marine vessels, etc.), construction (windows, doors, siding, etc), consumer durables (appliances,
cooking utensils, etc.), electrical transmission lines, machinery, and many other applications.

Aluminum foil is colloquially known as tin foil although it contains no tin. While the manufacture
of tin foil was supplanted by aluminum foil in the early twentieth century, the name has remained as
an artifact in popular usage.

4 closing The Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology 2009 greenblue
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Aluminum

Key Terminology
Other Production
Foil and Closures Aluminum
Beverage Containers Aluminum can sheet
Aluminum foil
Beverage container aluminum
Can body alloys 3004 and 3104
Can lid alloy 5182
Can end
Aluminum barrier layer
Barrier layer
Alloy 9020

Use/Collection
Aluminum
Aluminum cans
Cans
Used beverage cans (UBC)
Beverage cans
Pop cans
Soda cans
Beer cans
Aluminum Foil
Tin foil
Pie tins
Disposable baking pans
Aerosol cans
Spray paint cans

Reprocessing
Aluminum can scrap
Used beverage cans (UBC)
Post-consumer aluminum can scrap
Shredded aluminum used beverage can scrap
Densified aluminum used beverage can scrap
Baled aluminum used beverage can scrap
Briquetted aluminum used beverage can scrap
Post-consumer aluminum foil

5 closing The Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology 2009 greenblue
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Material Flow: Aluminum

Key
Other
Foil and Closures
Beverage Containers RESOURCE EXTRACTION PRODUCTION 2.7%

USE
Bauxite ore
Caustic soda Amount of U.S. packaging
that is aluminum (% by weight)
Calcined lime
Cryolite
Carbon anodes

19.9%
COLLECTION

Amount of U.S. aluminum production


that is packaging, 2007 (% by weight)
(The Aluminum Association 2008)

REPROCESSING SORT LITTER


Contaminants
Steel or ferrous metals
Lead and other metals
Mixed aluminum items (e.g.
DISCARD
siding, screen doors, bimetal cans)
Excessive food, grease or dirt
Paint cans with dried paint
Household utensils
Wire hangers
OTHER BENEFICIAL USE
Pots and pans
Steel deoxidation
Batteries
Aluminum castings
Electronics
Other
Plastics
Wood
Glass
Sand

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Glass

Key
Other Glass
Brown Glass
Green Glass
Clear Glass

Material Description Common Packaging Applications


Soda-lime Glass is an inorganic substance created at high temperatures and cooled quickly to
solidify it into a non-crystalline condition. It consists of silica sand (silicon dioxide), limestone (calcium
Food jars (sauces, condiments, pickles, baby food)
carbonate), and soda ash (sodium carbonate), along with a number of other minerals that help in
processing, provide clarity and provide color. Beverage bottles (milk, soft drinks, beer, wine,
liquor, juice, water)
Soda-lime glass is the most common glass type for packaging applications and is also called
Pharmaceutical containers
container glass or packaging glass. The three most popular colors are clear, brown, and
green. Because soda-lime glass typically has a slight green color due to impurities in the sand, Cosmetic containers
decolorizing agents such as cobalt oxide and selenium are added to produce a clear or flint
glass. Brown or amber glass is created by combining sulfur with carbon and iron-containing
compounds to create iron polysulfides that provide the amber color, which prevents the
transmission of most ultraviolet (UV) light through containers used to house products susceptible
to light degradation. Green glass is created with the addition of minerals, typically iron chromite,
to produce a green color.

Cullet is broken pieces of recovered glass. It is added to the glass furnace as recycled content to
create a new batch of glass, reducing the energy load on the process. It is commonly traded on the
scrap market as flint, amber or green cullet, when separated by color. Mixed cullet consists of a mix
of all the colors and is typically recycled through other beneficial uses like roadbed, concrete, filtration,
sandblasting, fiberglass, tile and others.

Glass bottles are unique among beverage containers in the U.S. today in that they may be
collected, washed and sterilized, and refilled for reuse a number of times before eventually being
discarded or recycled.

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Glass

Key Terminology
Production
Other Glass
Soda-lime glass
Brown Glass
Container glass
Green Glass
Packaging glass
Clear Glass
Beverage glass
Clear glass
Flint glass
Amber glass
Brown glass
Green glass

Use / Collection
Clear glass
Clear bottles
Brown glass
Brown bottles
Beer bottles
Green glass
Green bottles

Reprocessing
Flint cullet
Amber cullet
Green cullet
Mixed cullet
3-mix cullet
2-mix cullet

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Material Flow: Glass

Key
Other Glass
Brown Glass
Green Glass RESOURCE EXTRACTION PRODUCTION 16.4%
Clear Glass

USE
Silica
Limestone Amount of U.S. packaging
that is glass (% by weight)
Soda ash
Alumina
Colorants REUSE

49%
COLLECTION

Amount of U.S. glass production


that is packaging, 1999 (% by weight)
(U.S. DOE 2004)

REPROCESSING SORT LITTER


Contaminants
Lead crystal
Mirrors
Glassware/stemware
DISCARD
Pyrex
Light bulbs
Window pane or auto glass
Borosilicate glass (laboratory glass)
Non-glass closures
OTHER BENEFICIAL USE
Ceramics
Roadbed and concrete
Porcelain
Filtration
Metal
Sandblasting
Rocks
Building products (fiberglass,
Bricks
tile, etc.)
Wood
Other
Excessive organics

9 closing The Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology 2009 greenblue
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Steel

Key
Other
Cans

Material Description Common Packaging Applications


Steel is an alloy of iron that contains carbon between 0.2% and 1.7% by weight. It is malleable
under suitable conditions and is distinguished from cast iron by its malleability and lower carbon
Food and beverage cans and containers, sometimes
content. It is made from iron ore, coke (made from bituminous coal and limestone), and often
plated with tin or polymers to prevent acidic food from
recycled steel scrap. reacting with steel.

Tinplate steel is steel sheet coated on both sides with a thin layer of tin. In packaging, tinplate steel Paint cans
is used to hold and preserve food and beverages, especially acidic ones, and prevent the steel from
Aerosol cans
coming into contact with the food and corroding. The tin is removable and also recyclable as scrap.
Other containers (e.g. spices, automobile additives)
Steel cans may be colloquially known as tin cans, although this refers to the tinplate steel used
in food and beverage containers. Aside from food cans and containers, steel is used in numerous
non-packaging sectors to make cars, trains, appliances, bridges, buildings, surgical instruments,
and more.

Because steel is magnetic, it is relatively easy to sort it with a magnet from other recyclables. At a
metal scrap yard or drop-off facility, any steel item may be easily sorted and recycled. However, the
typical curbside collection process and material recovery facility (MRF) is not equipped to handle
non-packaging or hazardous items such as clothes hangers, paint cans, and knives, despite the
fact that they may be recyclable. These items are considered contaminants, for example, because
hangers snag and bind the conveyor belts and sorting screens, cans with partially dried paint can
spill, and aerosol cans can explode if caught in the machinery. One major contaminant to the steel
recycling process is radioactive scrap, and scrap dealers and mills have installed radiation detection
devices to ensure these contaminants are eliminated before reprocessing.

10 closing The Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology 2009 greenblue
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Material Flow: Steel

Key Terminology
Other Production
Cans Steel
Tin plate
Tinplate steel
Ferrous metal
Ferrous steel
Bimetal cans
Bimetal

Use / Collection
Steel
Steel cans
Cans
Tin
Tin cans
Metal cans
Iron
Metal
Scrap metal
Aerosol cans
Bimetal cans

Reprocessing
Ferrous scrap
Steel can bundles
Bimetal cans

11 closing The Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology 2009 greenblue
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Material Flow: Steel

Key
Other
Cans

RESOURCE EXTRACTION PRODUCTION 3.8%

USE
Iron ore
Coal Amount of U.S. packaging
that is steel (% by weight)
Limestone
Zinc
Chromium
Tin

2.8%
COLLECTION

Amount of U.S. steel production that


is packaging, 2006 (% by weight)
(American Iron and Steel Institute 2006)

REPROCESSING SORT LITTER


Contaminants
Non-ferrous metals
Excessive rust and corrosion
Paint cans
Household knives
BACK TO SCRAP POOL Wire hangers
Pots and pans
Batteries
OTHER BENEFICIAL USE Electronics
DISCARD
Construction All plastics
Automotive Wood
Transportation Glass
Appliances Radioactive material
Surgical instruments
Other

12 closing The Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology 2009 greenblue
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Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Key
Bottles
Other Rigid Containers
Other Packaging*

Material Description Common Packaging Applications


Polyethylene terephthalate is a polymer in the polyester family made from petroleum and
natural gas derivatives (terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol), along with a catalyst, frequently
Bottles (e.g. soft drink, water, liquor, edible oil,
antimony trioxide.
condiments)

Polyethylene terephthalate is frequently referred to as PET, but because PET is a registered Food jars (peanut butter, mayonnaise, etc.)
trademark of a milk product, it is identified as PETE on some packaging. It is also frequently
Strapping
identified and referred to by its SPI resin code #1. rPET is PET that has been recycled, typically
through a mechanical process. cPET is crystalline PET, which has been partially crystallized to hold Cosmetic jars
its shape at high temperatures. Because of the crystalline structure, cPET is opaque. Additional
Food trays
types of PET include amorphous PET (aPET), PETG (glycol-modified PET), and GPETG (PETG/
aPET/PETG coextrusion). Clamshells (e.g. take-out food, pre-washed salad, etc.)

Blister packages
Some communities collect only plastic bottles, regardless of polymer. Others specify both the polymers
and formats to be collected, while some collect all rigid plastic containers. The benefits of an all-bottle Cups
collection program include a reduction in consumer confusion about the SPI resin codes #1-7 and a high-
Coatings
quality stream of bottles (most bottles are PET and HDPE) with fewer contaminants. The benefits of an
all-rigid-plastic collection system is a reduction in consumer confusion along with the ability to capture Films
other polymer shapes, such as jars, clamshells, tubs, and lids, many of which are recyclable. While these
shapes are frequently made with polymers that are compatible with todays recycling technology, some
of them are made from different forms or undesirable colors of the same polymer or a look-alike polymer
that renders them into contaminants that must be sorted out of the recycling stream. For example, while
a frozen food tray and water bottle are both made of PET and bear SPI code #1, the tray is not recyclable
with the bottle. PVC is a contaminant for PET reprocessing, and a clamshell made of PVC is extremely
hard for sorting and reprocessing personnel to distinguish from one made of PET.

If the material recovery facility (MRF) uses hand-sorters, an all-bottle system makes sorting easier,
while automatic optical sorting technology could easily identify all the polymers in an all-rigid-
plastic collection. As more MRFs are outfitted with optical sorters to easily identify polymers,
additional packaging shapes of PET could be included in collection.

*includes coatings, closures, caps, trays, shapes, etc.

13 closing The Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology 2009 greenblue
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Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Key Terminology
Bottles Production
Other Rigid Containers Polyethylene terephthalate
Other Packaging* PET
cPET (crystalline PET)
rPET (recycled PET)
aPET (amorphous PET)
PETG (glycol-modified PET)
GPETG (PETG/APET/PETG coextrusion)

Use / Collection
#1 plastics
#1
PET
PETE
Plastic #1
Plastic bottles
Water bottles
Soda bottles
Pop bottles
Beverage bottles
Clamshell

Reprocessing
PET mixed color bottles
PET clear beverage containers
PET green beverage containers
PET mixed clear and green beverage containers
PET mixed color bottles and jars
PET mixed color rigid containers
Mixed resin mixed color bottles
Mixed resin pigmented bottles
rPET

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Material Flow: PET

Key
Bottles
Other Rigid Containers
Other Packaging* RESOURCE EXTRACTION PRODUCTION 4.2%

USE
Crude oil
Natural gas Amount of U.S. packaging
that is PET (% by weight)
Catalysts
Additives

68%
COLLECTION

Amount of U.S. PET production


that is packaging, 2005 (% by weight)
(American Chemistry Council 2006,
NAPCOR 2005)

REPROCESSING SORT LITTER Contaminants
Non-PET shrink labels
PVC (e.g., clamshells, blister packs)
PS (e.g., packing peanuts, clamshells)
DISCARD PLA (e.g., bottles, clamshells)
PET with opaque, translucent, or
unusual colors
Copolymers of PET, such as PET-G
Barrier materials, especially ones
OTHER BENEFICIAL USE containing nylon
Carpet and fiber Oxo-biodegradable polymer
Sheet and film formulations
Strapping Garden hoses
Clothing and textiles Video or audio tapes
Other Metals, including closures or seals
Glass
Wood
Paper and paper labels
Excessive organics
*includes coatings, closures, caps, trays, shapes, etc.

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High-density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Key
Bottles
Other Packaging*
Film
Other Rigid Containers

Material Description Common Packaging Applications


High-density polyethylene is a polymer in the polyolefin family. It is made from a petroleum
and natural gas derivative (ethylene) and catalysts. Aluminum trialkyltitanium tetrachloride and
Milk, water, and juice jugs
chromium oxide are the most common catalysts.
Non-carbonated beverage bottles
High-density polyethylene is frequently referred to as HDPE or HD and is also denoted by its
Laundry products and other household product bottles
SPI resin code #2. The different types of polyethylenes are distinguished from each other by the
degree of molecular linearity or branching and crystallinity within the polymer, which affects their Shampoo bottles
density. HDPE is typically produced in low pressure reactors and has a linear molecular structure
Dairy and deli tubs
with little branching.
Snack food packaging and cereal box liners
In packaging, HDPE colors range from natural (a milky white often seen in milk jugs) to special, (in film form)
brand-specific colors (e.g., detergent bottles). Plastics reprocessing companies have begun
Grocery sacks and t-shirt bags
investing in optical color-sorting technology for recycling, since mixing multiple colors when
reprocessing produces black HDPE, which is less desirable for packaging applications. Institutional liners

Crates
Some communities collect only plastic bottles, regardless of polymer. Others specify both the
polymers and formats to be collected, while some collect all rigid plastic containers. The benefits
of an all-bottle collection program include a reduction in consumer confusion about the SPI resin
codes #1-7 and a high-quality stream of bottles (most bottles are PET and HDPE)
with fewer contaminants. The benefits of an all-rigid-plastic collection system is a reduction
in consumer confusion along with the ability to capture other polymer shapes, such as jars,
clamshells, tubs, and lids, many of which are recyclable. While these shapes are frequently made
with polymers that are compatible with todays recycling technology, some of them are made from
different forms or undesirable colors of the same polymer or a look-alike polymer that renders them
into contaminants that must be sorted out of the recycling stream. If the material recovery facility
(MRF) uses hand-sorters, an all-bottle system makes sorting easier, while automatic optical sorting
technology could easily identify all the polymers in an all-rigid-plastic collection.

*includes coatings, closures, caps, trays, shapes, etc.

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High-density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Key Terminology
Bottles Production
Other Packaging* High-density Polyethylene
Film HDPE
Other Rigid Containers HD
PE-HD

Use / Collection
HDPE
#2 plastics
#2
Plastics #2
Milk bottles
Milk jugs
Detergent bottles
Detergent containers
Detergent jugs
Motor oil containers
#2 juice bottles
Laundry product bottles
Water bottle caps
Water jugs
Opaque grocery bags
Non-stretchy merchandise bags

Reprocessing
HDPE mixed color bottles
HDPE natural bottles
HDPE pigmented bottles
Mixed resin mixed color bottles
Mixed resin natural bottles
Mixed resin pigmented bottles
HDPE film, non-stretchy

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Material Flow: HDPE

Key
Bottles
Other Packaging*
Film RESOURCE EXTRACTION PRODUCTION 5.9%
Other Rigid Containers

USE
Crude oil
Natural gas Amount of U.S. packaging
that is HDPE (% by weight)
Catalysts
Additives
REUSE

45%
COLLECTION

Amount of U.S. and Canada HDPE


production that is packaging, 2008
(% by weight)
(ACC Plastics Industry Producers
Statistics Group, as compiled by Veris
Consulting, LLC 2009)
REPROCESSING SORT LITTER

Contaminants
Non-HDPE plastics
DISCARD PVC labels
PS (e.g., packing peanuts)
HDPE with calcium carbonate or
talc fillers (e.g. pharmaceutical
bottles)
OTHER BENEFICIAL USE Oxo-biodegradable polymer
Pipe formulations
Lawn and garden Garden hoses
Wood plastic composite lumber Video or audio tapes
Film, bags, and sheet Metals, including closures or seals
Automotive Glass
Buckets, crates and pallets Wood
Other Paper and paper labels
Excessive organics

*includes coatings, closures, caps, trays, shapes, etc.

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Low-density Polyethylene (LDPE) /
Linear Low-density Polyethylene (LLDPE)
Key
Film
Other Containers and Packaging*

Material Description Common Packaging Applications


Low-density polyethylene and linear low-density polyethylene are members of the polyolefin family
of plastics. They are made from a petroleum and natural gas derivative (ethylene), along with
Bags (grocery, bread, fresh produce, garbage,
catalysts (for LLDPE) or peroxide or other initiators (for LDPE).
dry cleaning, newspapers, etc).

Low-density polyethylene is frequently referred to as LDPE. Linear low-density polyethylene is Shrink wraps and stretch films
referred to as LLDPE and they are both included in the SPI resin code #4. LDPE and LLDPE are
Heat-sealable coatings and films
distinguished from each other by their type of branching and degree of molecular linearity, which
are determined by the polymerization process. LLDPE contains short chain branches of uniform Squeezable bottles
length which result from the incorporation of a comonomer (e.g. butene, hexene, or octene) into
Food storage containers
the polymer chain. LDPE contains long chain branches of varying length.
Container lids
Some communities collect only plastic bottles, regardless of polymer. Others specify both the
polymers and formats to be collected, while some collect all rigid plastic containers. The benefits
of an all-bottle collection program include a reduction in consumer confusion about the SPI resin
codes #1-7 and a high-quality stream of bottles (most bottles are PET and HDPE) with fewer
contaminants. The benefits of an all-rigid-plastic collection system is a reduction in consumer
confusion along with the ability to capture other polymer shapes, such as jars, clamshells, tubs,
and lids, many of which are recyclable. While these shapes are frequently made with polymers
that are compatible with todays recycling technology, some of them are made from different
forms or undesirable colors of the same polymer or a look-alike polymer that renders them into
contaminants that must be sorted out of the recycling stream. If the material recovery facility
(MRF) uses hand-sorters, an all-bottle system makes sorting easier, while automatic optical sorting
technology could easily identify all the polymers in an all-rigid-plastic collection.

LDPE and LLDPE are commonly used as a film for bags or wraps and are typically collected through
commercial recycling pickups rather than at curbside. LDPE grocery bags are collected from the
public in storefront collection boxes, while LLDPE stretch film is used for product distribution and is
collected by store employees at the back of the store. Store take-back programs are currently the
best collection option for these films, as they present serious operational problems for most material
recovery facilities. The bags wrap around and bind the sorting equipment, necessitating frequent
work stoppages during which employees must cut and remove the bags from the equipment.

*includes coatings, closures, caps, trays, shapes, etc.

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Low-density Polyethylene (LDPE) /
Linear Low-density Polyethylene (LLDPE)
Key Terminology
Film Production
Other Containers and Packaging* Low-density polyethylene
LDPE
Linear low-density polyethylene
LLDPE

Use / Collection
#4 plastics
#4
Plastics #4
LDPE
Plastic bags
Grocery bags
Shrink wrap
Film plastics
Carrier bags
Plastic sacks
LLDPE
Dry-cleaning bags

Reprocessing
LDPE mixed color bottles
LDPE natural bottles
LDPE pigmented bottles
Mixed resin mixed color bottles
Mixed resin natural bottles
Mixed resin pigmented bottles
LLDPE stretch film

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Material Flow: LDPE/LLDPE

Key
Film
Other Containers and Packaging*

RESOURCE EXTRACTION PRODUCTION 4.3%

USE
Natural gas
Crude oil Amount of U.S. packaging that is
LDPE/LLDPE (% by weight)
Peroxides
Additives
Catalysts

45%
COLLECTION

Amount of U.S. and Canada combined


LDPE/LLDPE production that is
packaging, 2008 (% by weight)
(ACC Plastics Industry Producers
Statistics Group, as compiled by Veris
Consulting, LLC 2009)
REPROCESSING SORT LITTER

Contaminants
Non-LDPE plastics
DISCARD PVC films
PS (e.g., packing peanuts)
Oxo-biodegradable polymer
formulations
Non-PE films
OTHER BENEFICIAL USE Video or audio tapes
Shipping envelopes
Metals, including closures or seals
Landscape timber
Glass
Wood plastic composite lumber
Wood
Trash and compost bins
Excessive dirt, moisture, or food
Floor tile, paneling
Paper
Film and sheet
Grocery sacks
Bags and liners
Other

*includes coatings, closures, caps, trays, shapes, etc.

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Polyproplylene (PP)

Key
Rigid Containers
Film
Other Packaging*

Material Description Common Packaging Applications


Polypropylene is a member of the polyolefin family of plastics. It is made from a petroleum and
natural gas derivative (propylene), along with a catalyst (Ziegler-Natta catalyst). Polypropylene is
Bottle caps
frequently referred to as PP and is also denoted by its SPI resin code #5. PP is used for both rigid
and film applications of packaging. Juice bottles

Yogurt cups
Some communities collect only plastic bottles, regardless of polymer. Others specify both the
polymers and formats to be collected, while some collect all rigid plastic containers. The benefits Drink cups
of an all-bottle collection program include a reduction in consumer confusion about the SPI resin
Potato chip bags
codes #1-7 and a high-quality stream of bottles (most bottles are PET and HDPE) with fewer
contaminants. The benefits of an all-rigid-plastic collection system is a reduction in consumer Cosmetic jars
confusion along with the ability to capture other polymer shapes, such as jars, clamshells, tubs,
Margarine and other dairy tubs
and lids, many of which are recyclable. While these shapes are frequently made with polymers
that are compatible with todays recycling technology, some of them are made from different Takeout containers
forms or undesirable colors of the same polymer or a look-alike polymer that renders them into
Medicine bottles
contaminants that must be sorted out of the recycling stream. If the material recovery facility
(MRF) uses hand-sorters, an all-bottle system makes sorting easier, while automatic optical sorting Drinking straws
technology could easily identify all the polymers in an all-rigid-plastic collection.
Wrapping films and layers in snack food wrappers

Labels

Auto battery housings

Pallets

*includes coatings, closures, caps, trays, shapes, etc.

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Polyproplylene (PP)

Key Terminology
Rigid Containers Production
Film Polypropylene
Other Packaging* PP

Use / Collection
#5 plastic
PP
Polypropylene
Bottle caps
Plastic caps
Yogurt cups
Margarine tubs
Bottles
Pouring spouts on bottles

Reprocessing
PP mixed color bottles
PP natural bottles
PP pigmented bottles
Mixed resin mixed color bottles
Mixed resin natural bottles
Mixed resin pigmented bottles

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Material Flow: PP

Key
Rigid Containers
Film
Other Packaging* RESOURCE EXTRACTION PRODUCTION 2.9%

USE
Natural gas
Crude oil Amount of U.S. packaging
that is polypropylene (% by weight)
Catalysts
Additives
REUSE

34.1%
COLLECTION

Amount of NAFTA PP production that is


packaging, 2008 (% by weight)
(ACC Plastics Industry Producers
Statistics Group, as compiled by
Veris Consulting, LLC 2009)

REPROCESSING SORT LITTER

Contaminants
Non-PP plastics
PVC labels
DISCARD
PS (e.g., packing peanuts)
HDPE / LDPE water bottle caps
Metals, including closures or seals
Oxo-biodegradable polymer
formulations
OTHER BENEFICIAL USE
Garden hoses
Automotive (battery cases,
Video or audio tapes
signal lights, cables, ice
Glass
scrapers, etc)
Wood
Garden tools, storage bins
Paper and paper labels
Pallets, sheets, trays
Other

*includes coatings, closures, caps, trays, shapes, etc.

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Paper

Key
Corrugated
Boxboard & Cartons
Other Paper Packaging

Material Description
Paper is a cellulose-based material most often made from hardwood and softwood wood chips, Sheet paper is also used for packaging. Sheet includes bleached and unbleached kraft paper.
recycled paper, water, starches and sizing. Paper packaging can also be made from other fiber Common packaging applications include grocery and lunch bags, multi-walled bags for pet
resources such as hemp, kenaf, palm, and bagasse (sugar cane), but currently these alternative food or cement, labels, food wraps, or the billboard print material inside of a plastic clamshell.
sources represent a small niche market. Once processed into paper, however, these fibers can
be included in the recycling system with wood fiber paper. All types of paper may be repulped together to produce recycled-content paper, although each
grade of paper is frequently recycled back into that same grade (e.g. corrugated to corrugated)
The wood chips can be pulped chemically or mechanically. In mechanical pulping, the wood to more easily get the desired qualities of that grade. Because recycled paper fibers break down
fibers are broken down using mechanical separation to produce a pulp called groundwood, eventually, virgin fiber must always be added to the system. Paper recyclers maximize the fiber they
used to make newsprint and other lower quality papers. This process does not eliminate lignin, can recover during the repulping process, but many treatments (e.g. wet strength additives), coatings
the glue that keeps the cellulose fibers together and what causes newsprint to yellow after (e.g. wax, polymers), laminate layers (e.g. foils, polymers) or components (e.g. plastic windows,
exposure to the sun. Chemical pulping uses heat and chemicals to separate the lignin from staples) are all considered contaminants and reduce the amount of fiber that is easily recovered.
the fibers. The most common chemical processes are alkali sulfite and alkali sulfate; sulfate
(known as the kraft process) produces the strongest fibers. Natural pulps range from a light Aside from recycling, an additional beneficial use for paper is composting. Industrial composting is
to medium brown color, but the pulp may be bleached with chlorine or hydrogen peroxide to a promising future option for the beneficial recovery of food service paper packaging, in particular,
whiten it. because food scraps, liquid, or grease present no problems for composting. Unlike paper recycling
systems, composting operations will accept wax-coated paper, although they refuse any paper with
Paper can be coated with natural or synthetic materials, such as waxes, foils, UV-activated plastic or foil coatings.
varnishes, or polymers. It is typically printed with various inks using one of three different
methods: flexography, used for printing on corrugated and kraft linerboard; lithography, used for
printing folding carton stock and labels; and rotogravure, used for labels, wraps, and cartons.

There are two main types of paper used for packaging: paperboard and sheet.
Common Packaging Applications
Paperboard is a heavy, thick paper grade used as the base material for many packaging
applications. Paperboard is generally classified into two categories: Aseptic packages (e.g. shelf-stable milk) Labels
1) Containerboard grade, primarily used for making corrugated boxes used as shippers or
Bags and sacks Milk and juice cartons
transport containers. Corrugated containerboard (synonym: fiberboard) is an assembly of
various layers of kraft paper in which linerboard surrounds a fluted medium. Corrugated is Beverage carriers Pallets and edge protectors
often incorrectly called cardboard by the general public, such as cardboard box. Common
Boxes, cartons, cores, tubes, and rolls Pizza boxes, take-out food
packaging applications for containerboard include shipping boxes and cartons, pizza boxes,
containers
pallets, and edge protectors. Composite packages (e.g. paper can
2) Boxboard grade, which is used primarily for making folding cartons. In the folding carton with metal ends) Trays
industry the term paperboard is used interchangeably with the terms board or folding
Food service packaging Set-up boxes
boxboard. Folding boxboard is paperboard suitable for conversion by folding into cartons.
Other synonyms: folding carton, cartonboard, boxboard. Common packaging applications Juice boxes
for boxboard include folding cartons (such as cereal boxes), set up boxes, beverage carriers,
milk and juice cartons, and food service ware.

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Paper

Key Terminology
Corrugated Production Production Reprocessing
Boxboard & Cartons Bending chipboard (BC) Test liner Beer carton stock
Other Paper Packaging Boxboard Unbleached board Hard mixed paper
Cardboard Uncoated board OCC - old corrugated containers
Carrier board Uncoated freesheet Plastic coated cups
Chipboard Uncoated recycled paperboard (URP) Polycoated bleached kraft
Clay-coated board White top liner Polycoated milk carton stock
Clay-coated kraftback (CCKB) Residential mixed paper
Clay-coated newsback (CCNB) Soft mixed paper
Clay-coated newsboard (CCNB) Use / Collection SOP - sorted office paper
Coated one/two sides (C1S/C2S) Aseptic containers UOP - unsorted office paper
Clay natural kraft (CNK) Beverage carriers Used brown kraft
Coated freesheet Boxes
Coated recycled board (CRB) Brown board
Coated recycled paper board (CRP) Brown paper
Coated unbleached kraft (CUK) Brown paper bags
Containerboard Cardboard
Corrugated Cardboard boxes
Corrugated cardboard Cereal boxes
Double kraft lined bending chipboard Cereal cartons
Folding carton Chip board
Food board Corrugated
Freesheet Corrugated boxes
Frozen-food board Grocery bags and sacks
Greaseproof board Juice boxes and cartons
Kraft Lunch bags
Kraft board Milk cartons
Kraft paper Mixed paper
Light-weight coated sheet (LWC) Moving boxes
Lined board Multi-wall bags
Linerboard Paper
Liquid packaging board Paper bags and sacks
Medium Paper board
Ovenable board
Paperboard
Recycled fiber paperboard (RFP)
Recycled paperboard
Solid bleached sulfate (SBS)
Solid unbleached sulfate (SUS)
Supercalendered paper (SC)

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Material Flow: Paper

Key
Corrugated
Boxboard & Cartons
Other Paper Packaging RESOURCE EXTRACTION PRODUCTION 57.1%

USE
Wood chips
Sawmill residues Amount of U.S. packaging
that is paper (% by weight)
Water
Chemicals: Caustic soda,
bleaching agents, sizing, REUSE
starch, pigments.

48.1%
COLLECTION

Amount of U.S. paper generated as


municipal solid waste (as a proxy for
production) that is packaging, 2007
(% by weight) (U.S. EPA 2008b)

REPROCESSING SORT LITTER Contaminants


Wax coatings
Hot-melt adhesives
Wet strength resins
Ultraviolet-cured inks and coatings
Brightly colored, fluorescent, or
FIBER SCRAP POOL dye-saturated paper
Sanitary products or tissues
Thermal fax paper
OTHER BENEFICIAL USE COMPOST Carbon paper
DISCARD
Newspaper Books, stickers, tape
Magazines Double-walled bags with wet strength
Writing paper or plastic (e.g. cement, pet food)
Books Excessive food contamination
Towel and tissue Plastics (e.g. bottles, strapping, films,
Food service ware expanded polystyrene)
Molded pulp Metals and foils, glass, dirt and sand
Radio frequency identification tags
Cloth, rags, and rope

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Glossary

Common Terms Aluminum


Collection is defined, for the purpose of Other Beneficial Use is defined, for the Reprocessing is defined, for the purpose Aluminum used in packaging is an alloy of
this Guide, as the collection of packaging purpose of this Guide, as open loop of this Guide, as closed loop recycling: the aluminum metal and magnesium. The chief
materials in recycling drop-off or curbside recycling: the reprocessing of collected post- portion of a packaging materials life cycle source of aluminum is bauxite ore, which
collection systems. consumer packaging materials into non- after post-consumer recovery when it is is refined by the Bayer process to produce
packaging applications. recycled back into the packaging materials alumina. Caustic soda, calcined lime and pitch
Compost is defined, for the purpose of production process. are added to the alumina and carbon anodes
this Guide, as the managed process that Packaging refers to all products used for made from coke convert it to aluminum
controls the biological decomposition and the containment, protection, handling, Resource extraction is defined, for the metal via the Hall-Heroult smelting process.
transformation of biodegradable materials delivery and presentation of goods, from purpose of this Guide, as the extraction of For recycled aluminum, scrap aluminum and
into a humus-like substance called compost, raw materials to processed goods, from the both renewable and non-renewable natural hardening agents are also added.
carbon dioxide, water, and minerals. producer to the user or the consumer. resources (such as timber, minerals, natural
gas, crude oil, water, etc.) for use in the Baled aluminum used beverage can scrap
Contaminants are defined, for the purposes Post-consumer material Post-consumer material production of packaging materials. refers to the ISRI specification (Taldon) for
of this Guide, as the major contaminants to is material or finished products that have served bales of a specified density, shape, and size of
a packaging material that are introduced their intended use and have been diverted or Reuse is defined, for the purposes of this used beverage cans.
during collection and which inhibit that recovered from waste destined for disposal, Guide, as the ability of a package to be
materials sorting and reprocessing. While having completed their lives as consumer items. collected after use and continue to deliver the Bimetal cans are cans made with two
some contaminants are discarded, many are Post-consumer materials are part of the broader same packaging function repeatedly without different types of metal. This term historically
recyclable and simply present a problem category of recovered materials. the need to be reprocessed, as with refillable has referred to a steel can with a tin coating
when co-mingled with another material. glass bottles or reusable crates and pallets. but more recently encompasses steel cans
Production is defined, for the purpose of with aluminum pull-tops. Bimetal cans are
Discard is defined, for the purpose of this this Guide, as the manufacture of packaging Sort is defined, for the purpose of this Guide, sorted with steel due to the magnetic quality
Guide, as packaging materials that are thrown materials from extracted resources and their as the separation of packaging materials, for of their steel component.
away by consumers as municipal solid waste, conversion into packaging. the purpose of recycling, from non-recyclable
disposed of in a landfill, and assumed to be a waste, other recyclable packaging materials, Briqueted aluminum used beverage can
loss of embodied energy and resources from Recovered Materials Recovered materials are and often by color, shape, or application. scrap refers to the ISRI specification (Taldork)
the packaging material system. defined as waste materials and byproducts for briquettes of a specified density, shape,
that have been diverted from landfilling, but Use is defined, for the purpose of this Guide, as and size of used beverage cans.
Litter is defined, for the purposes of this do not include materials and byproducts the portion of a packaging materials life cycle
Guide, as the portion of solid waste carelessly generated from and commonly reused within between the application of the packaging and Densified aluminum used beverage can
discarded outside the regular garbage and an original manufacturing process. the purchase and use of the product. scrap refers to the ISRI specification (Taldack)
trash collection and disposal system. for densified bundles of a specified density,
Recycling is defined, for the purposes of this shape, and size of used beverage cans.
Material recovery facilities (MRFs) are Guide, as the minimization of waste through
processing facilities that sort recyclables by the recovery and reprocessing of usable Post-consumer aluminum foil is the ISRI
material type and remove contamination. products that might otherwise become waste specification (Tesla) for baled old household
A MRF may use a range of technologies, and be discarded. aluminum foil and formed foil containers
including manual sorting, as well as of uncoated 1000, 3000 and 8000 series
magnets, eddy currents, screens and aluminum alloy.
trommels, air knives, belts, balers, and
optical and infrared sensors.

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Glossary

Glass
Post-consumer aluminum can scrap is the 2-mix cullet is a term used to refer to Processed (Furnace Ready) container glass Unprocessed container glass cullet is broken
ISRI specification (Talc) for old aluminum shipments of mixed color cullet, typically a mix cullet is crushed and whole contaminate- or whole scrap glass containers that comply
food and/or beverage cans. of green and brown cullet. free scrap container glass that complies with the proper ISRI glass specifications,
with the proper ISRI glass specifications, as follow: Cullet may be broken but not
Shredded aluminum used beverage can 3-mix cullet is a term used to refer to as follow: Various sizes from whole glass pulverized. Cullet should be free of excess
scrap is the ISRI specification (Talcred) for shipments of mixed color cullet, denoting a containers to -100 Mesh. However, the ideal moisture. Outthrow Materials: Normal
shredded used beverage cans. mix of flint, green, and brown cullet. material size is 3/8 to 3/4 with a 10% container labels; ring and metal closures
minimum of fine particles. Material size is where processing capabilities permit.
UBC is the abbreviation for used beverage can. Beneficiation, as used in the glass industry, is based upon buyer and sellers agreement. Prohibitive Materials: Non-acceptable items
a part of reprocessing where the glass cullet Outthrow Materials: Organic Matter, allowable include non-container glass (vision ware,
is made furnace-ready by crushing, sizing and percentage based upon buyer and sellers light bulbs, crystal, windows, mirrors, drinking
Steel further removal of contaminants. agreement. Prohibitive Materials: ferrous glasses, ceramic, milk glass, etc.), metals,
Incinerator bundles (ISRI scrap code 215)
metals, nonferrous metals, ceramics (such ores, minerals, bricks, clay, grinding and
refers to tin can scrap, compressed to
Brown or amber glass is soda-lime glass as cups, saucers, dinnerware, pottery, etc.), refractory materials, rocks, clay and ceramic
charging box size and weighing not less than
created by combining sulfur with carbon other glass (for example, plate window glass, closures. The quality of the unprocessed
75 pounds per cubic foot.
and iron-containing compounds to create heat-resistant glasssuch as Pyrexand lead- container glass cullet must be such that after
iron polysulfides that provide the amber based glasssuch as crystal ware, television beneficiation with a conventional container
Steel is an alloy of iron that contains carbon
color, which prevents the transmission tubes, vision ware, etc.), and other materials glass cullet processor it will be suitable for
between 0.2% and 1.7% by weight. It is
of most ultraviolet (UV) light through (such as bricks, rocks, etc.). ISRI publishes the production of glass containers. ISRI
malleable under suitable conditions and is
containers used to house products individual specifications for flint, amber, and publishes individual specifications for flint,
distinguished from cast iron by its malleability
susceptible to light degradation. green processed (furnace ready) container amber, and green unprocessed container
and lower carbon content. It is made from iron
glass cullet. glass cullet.
ore, coke (made from bituminous coal and
Clear or flint glass is colorless, transparent
limestone), and often recycled steel scrap.
soda-lime glass. Soda-lime glass is an inorganic substance
created at high temperatures and cooled
Polymers
Steel can bundles (ISRI scrap code 213) refers aPET is amorphous PET, which has been
Cullet is crushed or whole pieces of recovered quickly to solidify it into a non-crystalline
to steel can scrap compressed to charging cooled rapidly to prevent crystallization. It
soda-lime container glass that are crushed and condition. It consists of silica sand (silicon
box size and weighing not less than 75 is clear in color, and is used for applications
sized to manufacturer specifications. dioxide), limestone (calcium carbonate),
pounds per cubic foot. such as salad bar or take-out trays and
and soda ash (sodium carbonate), along
clamshells.
Fines is a term used by glass processors for with a number of other minerals that help in
Tin cans is a colloquial term for steel cans,
small glass pieces (usually less than 1/4 inch) processing, provide clarity and provide color.
although this refers to the tinplate steel used Clamshell is a type of package made in the
that may or may not get recovered due to
in food and beverage containers. shape of two hinged shells or blister bubbles,
their size.
hence the name clamshell. Clamshells are
Tinplate steel is steel sheet coated on both typically made out of a clear plastic for
Green glass is soda-lime glass created
sides with a thin layer of tin. product visibility and may be reclosable.
with the addition of minerals, typically iron
chromite, to produce a green color.

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Glossary

Code #7 is a catch-all resin identification HDPE mixed color bottles refers to the baled LDPE pigmented bottles refers to the baled Other Packaging is plastic packaging defined
code created by the Society of Plastics recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-200) that recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-402) that by the U.S. EPAs 2007 report Municipal
Industry (SPI) to include any package made specifies only mixed household HDPE bottles specifies only pigmented LDPE bottles. Solid Waste in the United States: Facts and
from a polymer that does not fall under SPI (detergent, shampoo, household products, Figures to include coatings, closures, caps,
resin codes #1-6 (PET, HDPE, PVC, LDPE/ milk, etc.). LLDPE is the abbreviation for linear low- trays, shapes, etc.
LLDPE, PP, PS) or a package made of multiple density polyethylene.
polymers in a multi-layer construction. It HDPE natural bottles refers to the baled Other Rigid Container is defined as any non-
currently includes all bio-based polymers, recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-201) that LLDPE stretch film refers to a bale bottle container that can maintain its shape
such as PLA. Code #7 is also referred to as specifies only milk, water, and juice (quart, specification for clear LLDPE stretch film and when holding a product, is made of plastic,
other plastics. 1/2 gallon, and 1 gallon bottles) bottles. bags. Bales may be specified for natural color is capable of multiple reclosures, and is sold
only, colored film only, or a combination of with an attached or unattached lid or cap.
Code #7 / other mixed color bottles refers HDPE pigmented bottles refers to the baled the two. Colored or printed film or bags are
to the baled recycled plastic standard (ISRI recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-202) that often considered a contaminant. PCR is the abbreviation for post-consumer resin.
P-700) that specifies natural and pigmented specifies only mixed pigmented household
bottles of any resin included under SPI resin HDPE bottles (detergent, shampoo, Low-density polyethylene and linear low- PCR PET is post-consumer recycled
code #7. household products, etc.). density polyethylene are members of the polyethylene terephthalate.
polyolefin family of plastics. They are made
Code #7 / other natural bottles refers to the HDPE/LDPE film, or grocery sack bale, refers from a petroleum and natural gas derivative PET clear beverage containers refers to the
baled recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-701) to a bale specification for mixed HDPE and (ethylene), along with catalysts or initiators baled recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-101) that
that specifies only natural bottles of any resin LDPE stretch film, primarily made up of post- such as peroxide. All forms of LDPE and specifies only clear PET beverage containers (1,
included under SPI resin code #7. consumer HDPE grocery bags with a lesser LLDPE are referred to by SPI resin code #4. 2, 3 liter, 16 oz. soft drink bottles).
amount of LDPE stretch film and bags.
Code #7 / other pigmented bottles refers Mixed resin mixed color bottles refers to the PET green beverage containers refers
to the baled recycled plastic standard (ISRI High-density polyethylene is a polymer in the baled recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-000) to the baled recycled plastic standard
P-702) that specifies only pigmented bottles polyolefin family. It is made from a petroleum that specifies any color bottles made of any (ISRI P-102) that specifies only green PET
of any resin included under SPI resin code #7. and natural gas derivative (ethylene) and resin included in the SPI resin codes #1-7. beverage containers (1, 2, 3 liter, 16 oz. soft
catalysts. All forms of HDPE are referred to by drink bottles).
cPET is crystalline polyethylene terephthalate, SPI resin code #2. Mixed resin natural bottles refers to the
frequently used in microwavable and baled recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-001) PET mixed clear and green beverage
ovenable food trays. LDPE is the abbreviation for low-density that specifies natural-color bottles made of containers refers to the baled recycled plastic
polyethylene. any resin included in the SPI resin codes #1-7. standard (ISRI P-103) that specifies only clear
GPETG is a PETG/APET/PETG co-extruded or green PET beverage containers (1, 2, 3 liter,
film. It is used for rigid film items such as LDPE mixed color bottles refers to the baled Mixed resin pigmented bottles refers to the 16 oz. soft drink bottles).
packaging for medical instruments and recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-400) that baled recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-002)
medical trays. It is also called GAG-PET in specifies natural and pigmented LDPE bottles. that specifies pigmented bottles made of any PET mixed color bottles and jars refers to the
reference to its three layers. resin included in the SPI resin codes #1-7. baled recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-104)
LDPE natural bottles refers to the baled that specifies mixed color PET bottles and jars,
HDPE is the abbreviation for high-density recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-401) that Natural is a term referring to a colorless such as liquor, edible oil, peanut butter, etc.
polyethylene. specifies only natural-colored LDPE bottles. polymer such as HDPE or PP, typically milky-
white in appearance.

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Glossary

PETG is glycol-modified PET. It is clear but Polypropylene is a member of the polyolefin


can be colored. Its modified properties, family of plastics. It is made from a petroleum
including lower melting temperature, are due and natural gas derivative (propylene), along
to copolymerization. This makes it particularly with a catalyst. All forms of PP are referred to
well-suited for thermoforming applications, by SPI resin code #5.
such as a bottle with a built-in handle.
Polystyrene is a polymer made from a
PET mixed color bottles refers to the baled petroleum and natural gas derivative (styrene)
recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-100) that and a catalyst. Typically, the term polystyrene
specifies any color of PET bottles, such as refers to general purpose polystyrene (GPPS),
mixed soft drink, liquor, edible oil, etc. bottles. the basic form made without large amounts
of additives. Expanded polystyrene (EPS)
PET mixed color rigid containers refers to contains blowing or expanding agents to
the baled recycled plastic standard (ISRI produce foamed applications such as packing
P-110) that specifies mixed color PET rigid peanuts, egg cartons, and meat trays. High
containers, such as mixed bottles, jars, tubs, impact polystyrene (HIPS) is opaque due to
trays, etc. the incorporation of rubber compound additives
which help reduce brittleness. All forms of PS
PET or PETE are abbreviations for are referred to by SPI resin code #6.
polyethylene terephthalate.
Polyvinyl chloride is a polymer made from PVC is the abbreviation for polyvinyl chloride. Brown paper is a synonym for kraft paper.
PLA is the abbreviation for polylactic acid. petroleum or natural gas and rock salt
derivatives (ethylene and vinyl chloride) rPET is recycled polyethylene terephthalate. Cardboard is a thin, stiff pasteboard,
Polyethylene terephthalate is a polymer in along with a catalyst and peroxide initiator. It sometimes used for playing cards or signs.
the polyester family made from petroleum is also referred to by SPI resin code #3. The general public misuses the term and often
and natural gas derivatives (terephthalic acid
Paper incorrectly refers to corrugated containerboard
Aseptic packaging refers to a package in
and ethylene glycol), along with a catalyst, PP is the abbreviation for polypropylene. or even boxboard as cardboard.
which sterile contents are filled into a sterile
typically antimony trioxide. All forms of PET
multi-laminate package often made of liquid
are referred to by SPI resin code #1. PP mixed color bottles refers to the baled Carrier board is clay-coated unbleached kraft
packaging board, enabling the product to be
recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-500) that paperboard with a wet strength additive to
shelf-stable.
Polylactic acid is a bio-based polymer derived specifies natural and pigmented PP bottles. add moisture resistance. It is commonly used
from sugar or starch feedstocks such as corn, for beverage carriers.
Bending chipboard (BC) is a slightly better
rice, sugar beets, sugarcane, wheat, or sweet PP natural bottles refers to the baled
grade of chipboard that allows for folding
potatoes. The most common packaging recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-501) that Cartonboard is a synonym for boxboard.
while still being made of recycled fiber. It is a
applications of PLA include films, coatings, specifies only natural-colored PP bottles.
grade of folding carton board.
thermoformed food and beverage containers, Chemical pulp uses a combination of
food service ware, and wrappers. PLA PP pigmented bottles refers to the baled chemicals and heat to separate the lignin from
Boxboard is a grade of paper which is used
biopolymer can be clear, opaque, flexible or recycled plastic standard (ISRI P-502) that the cellulosic fibers in wood. The result is a
primarily for making folding cartons. Other
rigid. PLA currently falls under SPI resin code specifies only pigmented PP bottles. strong fiber with less color.
synonyms: folding carton, cartonboard.
#7 (other).
PS is the abbreviation for polystyrene.

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Glossary

Chipboard is a type of panel board made Coated unbleached kraft (CUK) is a According to ISRI, Double-Sorted Greaseproof board is paperboard treated
from lower-grade secondary fiber or large, synonym of solid unbleached kraft and Corrugated (DS OCC) consists of double- to resist penetration of oil or grease by
discrete chips, where stiffness is a priority, is coated with a thin layer of clay for an sorted corrugated containers, generated from laminating with greaseproof paper (glassine)
but appearance is less important (e.g. the improved printing surface. supermarkets and/or industrial or commercial or by coating or laminating with other
back of writing tablets). Can be a synonym facilities, having liners of test liner, jute, or greaseproof materials.
for cardboard. Composite packaging is an overarching term kraft. Material has been specially sorted to
for any package made with a combination be free of boxboard, off-shore corrugated, Groundwood is the term used to refer to
Clay-coated board is paperboard that has of different materials that are not easily plastic, and wax. Prohibitive Materials may wood pulp generated using the mechanical
been surface-coated with clay to even and disassembled or separated from each other. not exceed 1/2 of 1%. Total Outthrows may separation of cellulosic fibers. This process
smooth the surface to enhance printing A composite package may be multi-laminate, not exceed 2%. does not eliminate lignin, the glue that
and appearance. liquid packaging board, or used for aseptic keeps the cellulose fibers together and what
applications. Also included as composite Fiberboard is a synonym for corrugated causes newsprint to yellow after exposure to
Clay-coated kraftback (CCKB) is a white- packages are bi-metal cans made of steel with containerboard. the sun.
lined coated recycled paperboard in aluminum tops and the paperboard cans with
which the filler and back are made from metal and/or plastic ends used for snack foods Fluted (or corrugating) medium is stiff, According to ISRI, Hard Mixed Paper (HMP)
recycled kraft paper, including corrugated or frozen fruit juice. lightweight board used for the fluted layers of consists of a clean, sorted mixture of various
containerboard. corrugated box board. qualities of paper containing less than 10%
According to ISRI, Corrugated Containers groundwood content. Prohibitive Materials
Clay-coated newsback or newsboard (OCC) consists of corrugated containers Folding boxboard or folding board is may not exceed 1/2 of 1%. Total Outthrows
(CCNB) is a white-lined coated recycled having liners of either test liner, jute or kraft. paperboard suitable for conversion by may not exceed 3%.
paperboard in which the filler and back are Prohibitive Materials may not exceed 1%. Total folding into cartons. The terms are synonyms
made from recycled newsprint. Outthrows may not exceed 5%. for boxboard. Kraft board is paperboard made almost
wholly from kraft pulp.
Clay natural kraft (CNK) is a synonym of solid Corrugated containerboard is a grade of Folding carton is a three-dimensional carton
unbleached sulfate and is coated with a thin paper primarily used for making corrugated made out of boxboard grade paper. Kraft paper is paper or paperboard made
layer of clay for an improved printing surface. boxes used as shippers or transport almost wholly from kraft pulp.
containers. It is an assembly of various Food board is paperboard, typically coated
Coated one/two sides (C1S/C2S) is layers of kraft paper in which linerboard or waxed in order to hold moist, oily, or Kraft pulp is wood fiber paper manufactured
paperboard coated on either one or both surrounds a fluted medium. Corrugated is liquid foods. It is typically referred to by by the Kraft or sulfate process. The Kraft
sides for an improved printing surface. It is often incorrectly called cardboard by the grade, such as cupstock or platestock. process uses alkaline chemicals (sodium
commonly used for leaflets, inserts, calendars, general public, although in the paper industry, hydroxide and sodium sulfide) to chemically
business cards, and other uses where high- cardboard is a synonym for chipboard. Freesheet is a paper made entirely of chemical transform wood chips into a strong pulp.
quality printing is important. pulp. Freesheet may be coated or uncoated.
Double kraft lined bending chipboard is an Light weight coated sheet is paper with
Coated recycled board (CRB) and coated uncoated recycled paperboard with a layer of Frozen-food board is paperboard made a coating applied on one or both sides of
recycled paperboard (CRP) are synonyms recycled kraft fibers on both front and back from waxed or poly-coated pulp and treated the sheet.
and overarching boxboard terms that include to add strength and resist cracking. It is used with sizing for water resistance and used for
clay-coated kraftback and clay-coated for folding cartons. storing frozen foods. Lined board has multiple layers, typically
newsback, among others. consisting of a recycled layer sandwiched
between one or two layers of higher-quality
bleached fiber.

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Glossary

Linerboard (synonym: facing) is the Paperboard is one of the two major product According to ISRI, Soft Mixed Paper consists According to ISRI, Unsorted Office Paper
lightweight, flat facing made of kraft or categories of the paper industry. It is a heavy, of a clean, sorted mixture of various qualities (UOP) consists of printed or unprinted paper
recycled paper that adheres to the fluted thick paper grade used as the base material of paper not limited as to type of fiber typically generated in an office environment
corrugating medium in corrugated board. for many packaging applications. The two content. Prohibitive Materials may not exceed that may include a document destruction
major types are containerboard (corrugated) 1%. Total Outthrows may not exceed 5%. process. This grade may contain white,
Liquid packaging board is a type of and boxboard. colored, coated and uncoated papers, manila
composite package consisting of multi-ply Solid bleached sulfate (SBS) is paperboard and pastel colored file folders. Prohibitive
paperboard with one or more additional Prohibitive Materials is defined by ISRI as: made of sulfate (kraft) pulp and bleached to Materials may not exceed 2%. Total Outthrows
layers used for gable-top and brick cartons a) Any materials which by their presence give a white appearance. may not exceed 10%.
containing liquids. Along with paperboard, in a packing of paper stock, in excess
the layers typically include barrier coatings of of the amount allowed, will make the Solid unbleached sulfate (SUS) (synonym: According to ISRI, Used Brown Kraft consists
polymers and/or aluminum foil laminate. packaging unusable as the grade specified; kraft board) is paperboard made of of brown kraft bags free of objectionable
b) Any materials that may be damaging to unbleached sulfate (kraft) pulp. liners and original contents. Prohibitive
Mixed paper is recovered paper not sorted equipment; c) All sorted recovered paper Materials None permitted. Total Outthrows
into categories such as old magazines, old stock must be free of food debris, medical According to ISRI, Sorted Office Paper may not exceed 1/2 of 1%.
newspapers, old corrugated boxes, etc. It is or hazardous wastes and poisonous or other (SOP) consists of paper, as typically
an inclusive catch all category for a wide harmful substances or liquids; and d) Wax is a generated by offices, containing primarily
variety of recovered paper. Prohibitive unless accepted and pre-approved white and colored groundwood-free paper,
by the Buyer. free of unbleached fiber. May include a
Multi-laminate packaging is a subset of small percentage of groundwood computer
composite packaging that features a complex Recycled fiber paperboard (RFP) is recycled printout and facsimile paper. Prohibitive
layered structure. Multi-laminate layers can paperboard. It may be coated or uncoated. Materials may not exceed 1%. Total Outthrows
include paperboard, polymers, and aluminum may not exceed 5%.
foil. Examples include drink pouches, potato Recycled paperboard is paperboard made
chip bags, and bricks and cartons containing with 100% recycled fibers and is typically gray Supercalendered paper is a paper that has been
milk, soymilk, soup, and broth. in color. given a smooth finish by passing it through a
series of rollers at high speed and pressure.
Outthrows is defined by ISRI as all papers According to ISRI, Residential Mixed Paper
that are so manufactured or treated or consists of a mixture of various qualities of Unbleached board is made from unbleached
are in such a form as to be unsuitable for paper not limited as to type of fiber content, pulp and is brown in color.
consumption as the [scrap] grade specified. normally generated from residential, multi-
material collection programs. Prohibitive Uncoated recycled paperboard (URP) or
Ovenable board is paperboard, typically Materials may not exceed 2%. Total Outthrows uncoated boxboard (URB) are synonyms. It
coated with a heat-tolerant polymer, to allow may not exceed 5%. is produced from 100% post-industrial and post-
the paperboard to be placed in the oven or consumer recovered paper. Some uncoated
microwave for heating food. Set-up boxes are three dimensional paperboard is produced with a top ply of white
paperboard boxes that have been squared recovered fiber or vat dyed for color.
with one set of end flaps sealed and are ready
to be filled with product.

33 closing The Loop: A Guide to Packaging Material Flows and Terminology 2009 greenblue
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Photo Credits
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ALUMINUM GLASS

STEEL LDPE/LLDPE

PET HDPE

PP PAPER

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