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Designing for Plastic Recyclability

Plastic injection moulding companies must endeavor to make designing for recyclability and sustainability a core part of the business to grow and secure its position in the plastics industry. Plastic waste has been a hot topic recently and will only become more prevalent over time. When considering recyclability and sustainability of a plastic product it is sensible to begin at the point of design, looking into a products’ life-cycle impacts and then minimising the largest environmental impact.  This is the first step when designing for plastic recyclability.

During the design phase, the environmental impact should be reviewed at every stage in the life-cycle of the product. This review analysis is more commonly used for form and function but businesses must begin to include recyclability and sustainability as part of their design and manufacture process.

There are several methods that can be used to design products for recyclability, and the right method will depend on each company’s aims and objectives. For example, if a product requires 100% recyclable packaging, then designers would need to look at using mono materials that can easily be separated at the point of disposal to then be easily recycled.

Below we’ve identified a few considerations for plastic recyclability:


  • Consider the recyclability of the materials used, can they easily be recycled by most local authorities.


  • Reduce the number of materials used and if possible, use just one material. When using multiple materials, label correctly to enable easy recycling.


  • Review how the materials are fixed together, avoid using metal inserts or self-taping screws and aim to use snap clips where feasible. This will reduce the amount of time it takes to dismantle the product and they could also be made from the same material. If possible also try to avoid using polyester and polyurethane based adhesives, to make separation of the parts easier for recycling purposes.

Almost all plastics can be recycled, however the degree to which they are recycled depends upon technical, economic and logistic factors. Plastic manufactures should aim to design plastic products that can be recycled at their ‘end-of-life’, preferably back into a product that can then be recycled again and again. In the UK, there are 3.7 million tons of plastic of which 29% is recycled and 59% recovered. The UK has a plastic packaging recycling target of 57% by 2020 and we are working together to meet this target.


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Looking for more information? Check out our blog, News & Views for useful articles, tips and tricks on plastic injection moulding.