How Product Design Affects Future Recycling Rates

The composition of plastic bottles is important in the recycling process. Photo: Shutterstock

The composition of plastic bottles is important in the recycling process. Photo: Shutterstock

Design for Recycling Principles

What does it mean to design for recycling? ISRI believes in four guiding principles for manufacturing products:

First, manufacturers should strive to make consumer products with as many recyclable materials as possible. The materials should be safe, and recycling these materials should not be costly. When manufacturers focus on these factors ahead of time, no unnecessary burden will be placed on those responsible for the actual recycling of these products.

A second, related principle states that a manufacturer should not create a product whose recyclability poses environmental risks. Dealing with these kinds of materials can be uneconomical, and companies will ideally opt for alternatives.

In some cases, manufacturers may not be able to make their products with other, less-hazardous materials, so the third principle suggests manufacturers work with recyclers ahead of time in these special circumstances so the recyclers won’t bear the burden of the environmental hazards.

Lastly, ISRI points out that implementing design changes may be a financial challenge, especially for small businesses, so they believe society should assist manufacturers in making these changes happen. Ultimately, Design for Recycling benefits everyone — including manufacturers, recyclers and consumers — so everyone should do their part to facilitate the recycling process.

Manufacturers must keep these principles in mind when improving their products, and in order to be eligible to win a Design for Recycling award, a product must meet a set of specific criteria. For example, a product must be easily recyclable using current or new procedures, be cost-effective to recycle, reduce the use of raw materials by incorporating recycled components and increase overall recyclability while reducing the negative impact the product has on the environment.

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  1. LOL Coke bottle is 30% plants? Let’s see would that be the 30% of the plastic that comes from the oil that comes from the dead plants and dinosaurs? ;) So that would be 70% dead dinosaurs then.

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