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!