Fiber Recycling Tool for Packaging Launches in the United States

Fiber Recycling Tool for Packaging Launches in the United States

The introduction of the Fiber Recycling Readiness Tool is poised to make a significant impact on the recycling of packaging materials in the United States. Developed by ISRI, this online resource is underpinned by extensive research and aims to evaluate the compatibility of everyday consumer fiber-based packaging with the residential recycling system in the United States. Fiber-based packaging is one of the most widely recycled materials worldwide, as it not only recovers valuable fiber for the production of various paper products but also plays a vital role in job creation and environmental protection.
“Retail shelves across the country are filled with a growing number of fiber-based packaging like paper, paperboard, and corrugated boxes,” says Robin Wiener, president, ISRI. “ISRI’s new tool will provide brands, packaging developers and other stakeholders with clear guidance on whether their packaging will successfully pass through the current recycling infrastructure. This tool is a great advancement for the recycled materials industry.”

The tool is based on industry expert knowledge, including a comprehensive ISRI-commissioned Moore & Associates study on the current Material Recovery Facility (MRF) and paper mill infrastructure across the US. Currently, many brands test their packages’ recyclability by running tests at MRFs and universities specializing in fiber recycling. This tool represents a major advancement in that it captures the package design, processing, and end use in one resource.

Leonard Zeid, Chair of the ISRI Fiber Recycling Readiness Tool and Executive VP of Brokerage and Marketing at Midland Davis Corp, views this as an exciting moment for the fiber industry. He underscores the tool's ability to help brands adhere to Design for Recycling principles in crafting fiber-based packaging that seamlessly integrates with the existing recycling infrastructure. This, in turn, can significantly reduce contamination at MRFs and enhance the quality of the bales sent to consuming mills. Zeid expresses his gratitude to ISRI members, staff, and the ISRI Brands Leadership Council for their involvement in creating this invaluable recycling resource.

The online tool operates by automatically assessing each criterion and presenting a straightforward, color-coded result that categorizes packaging as meeting the criteria (green), needing modifications to address challenges (yellow), or failing to meet the criteria (red). Additionally, it offers personalized feedback regarding design choices that could enhance the recyclability of a specific package.

ISRI, often regarded as the "Voice of the Recycling Industry," is committed to promoting safe, economically sustainable, and environmentally responsible recycling through its various initiatives, including networking, advocacy, and education.

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