This new report, commissioned by the Standards Council of Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, identifies key considerations to verify recycled content claims in plastic products to inform actions in support of Canada’s target of achieving at least 50% recycled content in plastic products, where applicable, by 2030.
Companies in various sectors across the economy, both in Canada and globally, are increasingly using recycled content and adopting voluntary recycled content targets for plastic products and packaging. How to measure and verify recycled content in products will be a critical consideration as governments and industry develop actions to increase the uptake of recycled plastic.
We carried out a comparative assessment of existing and in-development North American and international standards and certification protocols for verifying recycled content in plastic products, identifying needs for effective future certification programs.
The research was aimed at gathering information on key elements of each standard, including:
- Calculation of recycled content, including details on inclusion of pre and/or post-consumer material, allowance for non-mechanical processes, allowed chain of custody models and allocation of recycled content under mass balance.
- Verification process including use of third-party accreditation.
- Recycled content reporting and claim requirements.
- Industry uptake.
- Cost of purchasing the standard or attaining/maintaining certification in respect to licensing, audits, and label use.
The project also engaged Circular Innovation Council, which interviewed industry and government stakeholders to understand uptake and use of standards and certifications; factors influencing choice; and the key barriers affecting the integration of recycled content in manufacturing processes.
The report found that verification of recycled content varies between resin types, product sectors and industrial sectors. Differences in use and choice of program include:
- Definitions of key terms;
- Allowed chain of custody models for physical and chemical traceability;
- What can be included in the calculation of recycled content;
- Auditing and compliance methodology;
- Labelling systems; and
- How outputs from non-mechanical recycling contribute to recycled content goals.