Recycling is the process of reusing recovered waste to make new materials. Lumi defines recycled materials as those containing least 50% recycled fibers for corrugated and paper and at least 20% recycled content for plastic packaging. Corrugated, cardboard, and paper are often made with a mix of recycled and virgin fibers, as paper fibers shorten and degrade in quality as they pass through the waste cycle. Similarly, plastic packaging can be made with a mix of recycled and virgin resins, however recycled resins can present challenges with coloration and chemical degradation.
Why choose it
Whether choosing paper or plastic, companies can opt for recycled content to lower their reliance and impact on virgin materials.
Recycled plastic: With China no longer accepting foreign plastic for recycling, there is an immediate need to find uses for the massive volume of plastic packaging piling up in U.S. waste facilities1.
Recycled paper/corrugated: Compared to plastic, recycled paper is easier to source and often default.
Why not choose it
Using recycled content can occasionally limit the scope of a materials’ texture, color, or structure which may cause an issue for some companies.
Recycled plastic: Recycled resins can melt at different temperatures than virgin resins2 and often discolor or otherwise behave differently from virgin resins during the plastic manufacturing process.
Recycled paper/corrugated: Recycled papers can present inconsistent color or texture, though most manufacturers have in-house QC testing for consistency.
Frequently asked questions
Jason Margolis. Mountains of US recycling pile up as China restricts imports (PRI, 2018)
Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura. Plastics Pile Up as China Refuses to Take the West’s Recycling (The New York Times, 2018)
Charlotte Dreizen. The race to increase recycled content in packaging (Packaging Digest, 2017)