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The Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and the Washington-based Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) have updated both the ISRI Scrap Specifications Circular and the APR Model Bale Specifications with revised specifications for recycled plastics.

According to an ISRI press release, these specifications were approved at ISRI’s Board and Governance meetings on July 14 and by the RPA Board on August 2. currently traded in the market.

Since ISRI’s recycled plastics specifications were last updated to the ISRI Circular Scrap Specifications, ISRI says technological innovations, such as optical sorters, robotics and artificial intelligence, have enabled recyclers to sort and process plastics more efficiently. However, ISRI adds, changing packaging and recycling streams require ISRI and APR to continually update bale specifications to reflect these changing designs.

ISRI says the specification updates also highlight changes to the recycling stream as a result of the pandemic. The increased use of disposable face masks and medical equipment has caused these non-recyclable materials to enter the recycling stream, and ISRI says these specifications specify that these non-recyclable materials are not acceptable for recycling. .

The updated specifications also address the increased use of batteries in consumer products. ISRI says the updated specifications clarify that batteries should not be placed in recycling streams by classifying them as unauthorized contaminants in all plastic bale specifications.

Additionally, APR has updated its APR Model Bullet Specifications with revisions for Recycled Plastics Specifications. According to ISRI, the updated APR specifications provide guidelines for the recycling market acceptance of various post-consumer plastic bales, including some post-commercial recycled plastic bales. Updates are not intended to override individual purchaser specifications which may allow or disallow different ball contents or sizes.

Kate Eagles, program manager at APR, explains that the specification update process involved working with APR’s North American plastics collector members to review existing specifications and discuss any updates to desired materials and tolerable contaminants (permissible at low levels) versus prohibited contaminants, with an emphasis on providing as much clarity as possible to help facilitate quality material. She says APR has also sought to add consistency across model specifications where possible in terms of shared introductory text, category headings, contaminant lists and general terminology used.

As a result of these updates, APR’s model bullet specifications now include three polyethylene terephthalate (PET) model bullet specifications: PET bottles without thermoforms; Thermoformed PET bottles; and thermoformed PET only. Eagles says “PET bottles with thermoforms” is a new bullet model specification.

APR has also adjusted the names of a few of the model movie specs to accurately reflect the contents of the spec. Additionally, APR has expanded the “Check with Your Buyer” section on model specifications, such as HDPE color, to reflect collector-recognized differences in material acceptance.

ISRI President Robin Wiener says the changes are the result of “two years of hard work” by volunteers from ISRI’s Plastics and Non-Ferrous Divisions.

“The ISRI Specs Circular is a living document that represents the vibrant recycled materials industry,” she says. “Furthermore, I am grateful for our partnership with the Association of Plastic Recyclers, which has allowed us to work together to harmonize our specifications across all industry segments.”

“APR has been pleased to partner with ISRI to bring consistency to the plastics recycling industry,” said Steve Alexander, President and CEO of APR. “These model bale specifications facilitate a better understanding of packaging/products generally accepted by collectors for recycling and also provide insight into the broader market and value chain.”