On January 17, 2019, Nestlé published a ‘negative list’ of packaging materials “for which recycling schemes are unlikely to be established” (FPF reported). The company stated that “[t]hese materials will no longer be used in new product packaging and we will also immediately begin phasing them out from existing packaging.”
The identified materials and applications include: (a) polyvinyl chloride (PVC), used, for example, in “sleeves, labels, films, trays, printing inks, sealing layers” ; (b) polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), used, for example, as coating on bi-oriented polypropylene (PP) films; (c) polystyrene (PS), used, for example, in “trays, yoghurt pots, lids for ice cream cones and coffee cups”; (d) expanded PS (ePS), used, for example, in “trays, pots, tubs, transport protections and sleeves”; (e) regenerated cellulose, used, for example, in twist wraps and pack windows ; and (f) “non-recyclable plastics/paper combinations,” such as paper/plastic laminates or laminated paper cups.
Following Nestlé’s announcement, the German IK Association for Plastics Packaging and Films stated that ePS “can be recycled and is being recycled successfully,” according to an article published by Plastics News Europe on January 28, 2019. Items made of ePS are recycled at around 50% in Germany, with an upward trend.
The association explained that ePS has been excluded from the list of “good [recyclable] materials” put together by the German Central Packaging Registry Office (ZSVR) in their “Guidelines for assessing the recyclability of packaging subject to mandatory participation in dual system.” However, classifying this material as “not recyclable” is an “unfair stigmatization.” Mara Hancker from the airpop expert group criticized this classification as being “based on purely commercial decisions by the sorting companies,” influenced in part by the absence of suitable recycling infrastructure and too low volumes currently available from the centrally collected household plastic waste.
The actual availability of collected recyclables as well as sorting and recycling facilities has been put forward as one of the prerequisite requirements in the global definition of recyclability proposed by plastics recyclers (FPF reported).
Chemical Watch (January 31, 2019). “Nestlé releases ‘negative list’ of plastic packaging materials.”
Plastics News Europe (January 30, 2019). “Airpop unfairly stigmatized as non-recyclable, says IK plastic packaging and films association.”
Packaging Europe (January 29, 2019). “Setting the record straight”: Airpop/Styrofoam successfully recycled.”
Nestlé (January 17, 2019). “The Negative List.” (pdf)