What Does PCR and PIR Mean, and What is it?

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You have most likely heard of PCR and maybe even PIR, but what do they stand for? These acronyms are extremely common in writings about sustainability and plastic — so common that sometimes they aren’t fully explained. If you’ve been wondering what PCR and PIR are, we’re here to help.

PCR is commonly written as PCR resin, which stands for Post-Consumer Recycled resin. Sometimes this is shortened to just PCR for Post-Consumer Resin. They are interchangeable in most circumstances.

PIR is Post Industrial Recycled (resin) or Post-Industrial Resin. As with PCR, the exact wording is typically interchangeable.

Now, what are PCR and PIR, and how are they different?

Post-Consumer means that the plastic has been used for its intended purpose by the customer. When it has completed its purpose, these plastics are recycled through traditional curbside or collection recycling. In some cases, closed-loop buyback programs are set up for products that are used in more commercial spaces. Petoskey Plastics utilizes a closed-loop program to reclaim our used plastic products from our customers and turn them into recycled resin that will be used again in future products.

Post-Industrial is plastic that never made it to the consumer. This excess plastic is left over from the manufacturing process and can be generated for a variety of reasons. Some scrap comes from contouring products or changing production on a line. Other times, scrap is created during necessary product quality and printing standards checks. Since this plastic never leaves the manufacturing setting, it can be easier to collect and recycle. 

Both PCR and PIR content is sorted, cleaned, and melted back into resin pellets to then be used again in future products. If you’re curious to learn more about that process, check out our closed-loop video that explains the steps we take to get clean resin to reuse.

The next time you see a product that is made or packaged with PCR or PIR resin, you know that you are doing your part to purchase sustainably. Just remember to recycle that product when you are done with it to keep the loop going!

Reduce waste. Reuse plastic film. Restore our Earth.

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This April 22 will mark the 51st Earth Day, a time to share our love of the planet, reflect, and innovate.

This year’s official Earth Day theme is Restore Our Earth™ and centers on “natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.” 

For our take, we’ve adopted the tagline “Reduce waste. Reuse plastic film. Restore our Earth.” The idea is simple: recycling plastic films reduces waste and allows those films to be reused in new products. This cycle keeps plastics out of the environment and in necessary products that benefit us all.

You may also notice that we have a new Earth Day 2021 logo. This logo has a special surprise hidden inside — the red, green, and blue plastic films that make up the logomark are scrap from our Morristown plant that is set to be recycled again! With the logo and tagline, our goal, as always, is to relay how valuable and sustainable plastics can be. To further prove this, we will be posting about our green technologies and sustainability projects. Most importantly, we will be launching a new sustainable product on Earth Day.

Before we get there, though, we would like to share a bit of our sustainability story. Our history with Earth Day goes back further than you may expect. Petoskey Plastics started operating the same month that Earth Day was first held back in April of 1970. While we initially focused on in-house recycling in 1978, we now recycle over 30 million lbs. of plastic film per year by diverting landfill-bound plastic waste. 

Petoskey Plastics has worked hard to provide sustainable products through our closed-loop partnerships. We pioneered the program in 1992 and have been going strong since. In addition, we have an industry-first Sustainability Scorecard program for customers that purchase our products with materials made from Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) resin. The scorecards show customers how their purchases impacted carbon footprint equivalents, emission offsets, and water savings. 

Most recently, we’ve committed to operating our new facility in Texas completely through wind energy. It was important to us to better serve our customers outside of the Midwest while upholding our sustainable vision. We are very excited about this decision and look forward to finding more ways to promote green strategies internally.

In the end, we enjoy Earth Day, but we know that just one week isn’t enough. That is why Petoskey Plastics continues to focus on sustainability every day. From new product development to internal practices, we take the future of our planet seriously. So don’t worry — we will still be posting about sustainability long after Earth Day is over.

The best way to stay tuned as we post more about our sustainable initiatives, accomplishments, and products is to follow our social media accounts. That’s where you will see our big announcement on Earth Day!

You can find more of our sustainability information on the Petoskey Plastics and Greencore® websites. Visit Earth Day Network or National Geographic for virtual educational and celebrational events all week long.

Happy Earth Week, everyone! 

Sustainable Packaging Coalition: Innovation and Teamwork

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Established in 2004, SPC has over 600 members of material manufacturers, recyclers and waste recoveries, government agencies, and more. Petoskey Plastics has been a member since 2019.

The mission of the coalition is “to bring packaging sustainability stakeholders together to catalyze actionable improvements to packaging systems and lend an authoritative voice on issues related to packaging sustainability.”

Petoskey Plastics works with sustainably minded suppliers to support our packaging sustainability goals. The packaging for our finished goods is made from 100% recycled corrugate material whenever possible. We also work with our packaging suppliers to continuously improve the “rightsize” of our cartons and shipping packaging by ensuring there is no unused space within boxes. Our products are then space-efficient and lighter, and we use less energy to ship to customers, reducing our carbon footprint.

A quick look at the SPC website shows that other members have also worked hard to uphold the mission. While it would take a separate article to highlight all the projects and collaborative ventures, there are a few we would like to share.

The SPC Design for Recycled Content Guide is a free resource for brands and companies that would like to make their packaging more sustainable. The guide gives many helpful tips and facts about recycled content and covers a mix of material types, plastic and otherwise.

One fact from the guide that we love is: “Using 30% recycled content in PE films has been estimated to reduce energy consumption by a quarter and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over a third during manufacturing.” We make our Greencore® products with up to 70% recycled content, so imagine the reduced energy consumption there!

Another project to note is the How2Recycle® Label that over 150 member companies use on their consumer product packaging. 

Recycling rules can be hard to follow when the process is not standardized; the label aims to reduce that confusion and help consumers recognize how and where to recycle their materials.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition intends to be “the leading voice on sustainable packaging with a membership that encompasses the entire supply chain.” Visit their website to see all the other ways members are using their voices to promote sustainable packaging.

Operation Clean Sweep: What the Pledge Means to Us

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Our Morristown, Tenn. rail spur is frequently cleaned of all resin pellets that may have leaked during the pumping of railcars.

Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) is a campaign supported by the Plastics Industry Association and the American Chemistry Council. This campaign aims to have “zero pellet, flake, and powder loss” from all plastic resin handling operations. Many companies and organizations have shown their support and become partners by signing the OCS pledge. Joining this program means committing to properly dealing with handling pellets, flakes, and powders and maintaining state and local regulations.

Resin pellets from plastic handling facilities appearing in waterways is usually unintentional and hard to catch if you are not paying attention. Small pellets can get lodged in the grooves of a shoe and follow an associate out to the parking lot where rain washes the pellets into the storm drains. Or, while unloading resin from trucks or trains, stray flakes could fall enter the ecosystem. OCS encourages facilities to look at all the areas where resin could be exiting the facility and entering the outside environment to avoid instances like the above.

In our Morristown, Tenn. plant, we have taken many measures to ensure resin pellets are not being introduced to the environment while entering our facility. In 2019, with the construction of our addition, the rail spur was asphalted and extended. Tactics to keep the rail spur clean of resin include:

  • Catch trays for use at all railcar unloading valves
  • Connecting hoses equipped with automatically closing valves that shut if the connection is broken
  • Proper emptying and sealing of bulk rail containers prior to shipment
  • Portable shop vacuums for outside use as well as brooms, dustpans, rakes, etc.
  • Screening in all storm drains with the screening mesh smaller than the smallest pellet handled at the facility

Petoskey Plastics has been a partner of OCS since 2019 but has cared about keeping plastic out of waterways for much longer. Not only are we big fans of Michigan’s Great Lakes that our Petoskey headquarters and plant are on the shores of, but we know the value of all waterways, big and small, and have always aimed to protect them. So much so, the three blue waves in our logo are partly meant to represent our efforts to protect important water resources (the other meaning has to do with our 3-layer technology, which you can learn more about here).

OCS has partners across the United States and has been adopted in many other countries. Petoskey Plastics is proud to have signed the Pledge to Prevent Resin Pellet, Flake, and Powder Loss and is committed to maintain and uphold that duty. To learn more about Operation Clean Sweep, check out their Prevent Material Loss video or head over to their website. You can also take the company or employee pledge here

Stay tuned as we discuss more certifications and programs in the future.

Circular Economy Trends in 2021

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Closed Loop and recycling programs, sustainable packaging movements, and more, are all contributing to the growing trend of diverting landfill-bound waste into new products.

One of Fast Company’s recent articles discusses circular economy in trends in 2021— let’s talk about some of them.

First, a vocabulary lesson. Closed loop is the process of reclaiming used materials and reusing them in new products. For example, Petoskey Plastics does this when we partner with customers to collect their used plastic. We take it to our recycling facility in Hartford City, Indiana to be reprocessed into new plastic resin pellets that are then added into new 3-layer products.

As the Fast Company article discusses, closed loop projects are becoming more popular among well-known brands. What’s great about the expansion of closed loop programs is that materials that are sometimes just treated as waste are instead taken and reused again and again. This lessens the production of virgin materials while also decreasing the amount of landfill-bound waste. 

This is a big deal in the plastics industry, because, as we all know, there is an issue with the way plastic is disposed after use. Issues like plastic in waterways can be addressed in part when more manufacturers adopt closed loop practices. Setting up buy-back or recycling programs allow partners a way to sustainably pass along materials instead of sending them to landfills.

With the adoption of closed loop practices, the use of sustainable packaging that is easier to recycle and made with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled plastic will be more common. Along that vein, ideally there will be an increase of products that are designed with the purpose of being recycled. Some footwear brands, like Adidas, have already taken on this challenge, and it will be interesting to see how other industries and products contribute ideas and solutions.

Aside from producing materials in a closed loop, measuring sustainability and encouraging partner companies to be sustainable is becoming expected widely. Greencore® customers can receive a scorecard that lays out how much impact their purchase of recycled film and bags had in understandable measures like “miles not driven,” “gallons of water saved,” and more. Becoming more sustainable takes a lot of effort, so it’s nice to work together and be reminded that the results are worth it.

Another example of working together for sustainability is The Coca-Cola Company partnering with competitors like PepsiCo and Keurig Dr Pepper to promote closed loops and plastic collection.

And speaking of Coca-Cola®, the company just recently announced that a selection of their bottles will be made from 100% recycled plastic content. This is great news, as Coca-Cola® bottles are commonly part of waste found in waterways.

We look forward to watching as many industries, including plastics, make strides in becoming more sustainable.

Everyday Items Made with Recycled Content You Can Buy

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With Earth Day just around the corner, recycling and living sustainably is something that should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. We did some research and there are so many companies out there making everyday products out of recycled material. Buying products made with recycled material is great for both the environment and economy. Not only does it reduce waste sent to landfills, it helps reduce your overall carbon footprint. Below are just a few examples of everyday products made with recycled material. 

Clothes & Shoes –Both plastic and fabric can be recycled and used to make new clothes and shoes. For example, Adidas is making tennis shoes and athletic wear out of ocean plastic and Recover Brands turns recycled plastic bottles into clothing. 

Trash bags – That’s right, trash bags can also be made from recycled material. Greencore® trash bags are made from post-consumer recycled film. By using the post-consumer material, not only is plastic film is diverted from landfills but there is also over 50% less COcreated during the manufacturing process. 

Furniture – There are a lot of companies out there making furniture from recycled material. New furniture can be made from recycled wood, glass, metal, plastic, and fabric. Next time you are looking to buy furniture or redecorate your living space, remember to recycle or donate your old furniture and buy new from brands that contribute to sustainability. 

Toothbrushes – Toothbrushes are not something you would think could be made from recycled material, but they definitely can be. Some companies make biodegradable toothbrushes out of bamboo while others make toothbrushes out of recycled plastic. Note: bristles are always new. 

Tableware – Bowls, glasses, and plates can all be made from recycled glass and plastic. Many are durable, dishwasher safe, and have the added bonus of also being sustainable. 

Living a sustainable lifestyle is not hard. There are a lot of companies out there making great products from recycled material. All you have to do is some research to find out what brands and then support those companies and the environment by purchasing their products. Small changes in your everyday life can add up to make a significant positive impact. 

New Year, New Website!

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Our recycling technology isn’t the only thing that got upgraded at the end of 2018. We pride ourselves in always advancing forward, constantly making improvements and looking for new ways to make our brand better, including updating our website! 

Not only did we give it a new, cleaner overall look, we also did a complete website audit after beginning the installation of our new recycling technology to make sure we were giving you the most accurate and up-to-date information on our products and capabilities. The products page got a complete makeover as well, giving you more in-depth information on each product. Other improvements to the website are the new visuals on our closed loop program and sustainability scorecards, making it easier to understand how the program works and how we can partner with you to improve your sustainability.

Every upgrade to the website was done to make it easier for the customer to find and understand the most important information about Greencore® Products.  Check out all of the improvements by exploring the rest of our website. If you have any questions or comments, send us a message through the contact us page! 

Petoskey Plastics’ 40th Anniversary of Recycling

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Petoskey Plastics started out as a small operation converting roll stock into plastic bags. In 1978, not long after operations began, Petoskey Plastics started recycling in-house, grinding down industrial scrap from Dow Chemical Company and turning it into trash bags. From there, our passion for recycling grew exponentially.

Petoskey Plastics constantly sought out new material to recycle and equipment that would help them recycle more. Every few years the team would travel to Düsseldorf, Germany to look at the European wash lines and other recycling equipment. However, it wasn’t until 1992, when Petoskey Plastics received a grant from the state of Michigan for $1.2 million, that we were able to match the amount with the company’s own money and buy the recycling equipment we needed in order to expand. Soon after we introduced our first closed loop recycling line, creating Can Sacks® from recycled bottle deposit bags.

Since then, the company continued to grow and thrive, eventually adding a recycling facility in Hartford City, Indiana in 2000. In 2009, Petoskey Plastics’ GreenPE® earned SCS Certification for its recycled content. Many of the products we make contain at least some sort of recycled plastic, with a number of our customers opting to join our closed loop program. This year we are celebrating our 40th year of recycling. What better way to celebrate than installing a new $8 million wash line that will not only allow the company to recycle more, but also create a higher quality recycled product. With its installation expected to be completed later this year, we are excited to see the results of this investment!

5 Tips to Make Your Summer Parties More Eco-Friendly

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With summer right around the corner, it’s time for backyard parties and holiday barbeques. From disposable dishware to aluminum drink cans, summer parties create huge amounts of trash. This summer you can have fun at your gathering while keeping the environment in mind. Here are five helpful tips for being more environmentally conscious while hosting and attending summer festivities.

1. Reuse decorations. Many decorations can be reused for multiple years or repurposed from other seasons or events. Check local thrift stores for fun decorations before buying new and donate them if you are not going to use them again. By reusing decorations, you cut down of the amount of waste that gets thrown away ever year.

2. Ditch the disposable dishware. According to Waste Management, Americans toss out enough disposable cups, fork, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. If that is not practical for the amount of people at your event, try to use disposable dishware that contains recycled material or is biodegradable.

3. Buy local food. Buy local food whenever possible. Shipping food from all over the world uses an enormous amount of fuel and resources. Plus, local fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, and dairy are fresher and typically cost less.

4. Carpool! There is no need for everyone to drive separately if they are going to the same place. Carpooling cuts down on fuel emissions and costs. Also encourage people to walk or ride their bike if possible.

5. Have clearly marked recycling and trash containers. It is important to provide guests with clearly marked recycling and trash containers. It may also be useful to have a list or visual aid on each container of what they should recycle and what goes in the trash. If you have an outlet for composting, try setting up a receptacle for food waste.

We’ll help you clean up and keep the environment clean! Did you know that your trash bags and can liners used at summer parties can also be eco-friendly?

Our Greencore® can liners and recycling bags are made with up to 70% post-consumer recycled material, reducing carbon pollution by as much as 20% over regular bags. These tough bags are puncture resistant and durable enough to handle your biggest summer party messes. By using our products, you can further increase your sustainability and cut down on waste.
Check out our eco-friendly products here.