Here's a rather thorny issue taking place at the intersections of recycling, materials technology, business, and human behavior that we just read about in Packaging Digest.
Recycling would work well—if everyone did it. Since not everyone does, a governing body called the Plastics Environmental Council wants to standardize additive ingredients going into plastic bottles, with the idea being that these additives would help the bottles break down as they sit in piles of landfill.
The problem: Those in the business of recycling have invested millions of dollars setting up machines that turn post-consumer waste back into raw materials. And it turns out those very additives that help untended bottles break down in landfill tend to gum up the works in a recycling facility.
According to one PET recycler, Ed Byrne, CEO of Peninsula Packaging, who was quoted in the San Jose Mercury News: "Even in small percentages, like one-tenth of one percent, these are just catastrophic for us. They melt at different temperatures. They ruin our product."
So while the PEC backs the additives, NAPCOR (The National Association of PET Container Resources) is against them. Once again our society has proven to be so complicated that you've got two groups who essentially want the same thing--no wasted plastic—and yet they're at odds.
Read it and weep here.