What is Post-Consumer Recycled Content?

What is Post-Consumer Recycled Content?


Want to switch to more sustainable products? You’ll most likely encounter the label post-consumer recycled content so find out what it is.

Post-consumer recycled contents are products or packaging that are made from items that have been recycled by consumers and have been worked into a new product. These materials have served a full product cycle - say as a bottle, bag, or newspaper - and were properly recycled and then turned into something new.

These products or packaging are great for minimizing the impact on the planet because they are making the most of raw materials that have already been manufactured and entered into the economy. You are then both saving these materials from a landfill, as well as holding off from using new, virgin materials again to make your products or packaging.

Best Sustainable Packaging Options

There are a few different options for sustainable packaging including post-consumer packaging, recyclable packaging, and compostable packaging.

As mentioned above, post-consumer will mean that the packaging is made from materials that have already been used and recycled. Recyclable packaging is packaging materials made from recycled materials (like recycled paper, recycled fiber, and recycled plastic) that could even be repurposed. Meanwhile, compostable packaging is a type of packaging that disintegrates in compost without leaving any harsh chemicals. Either may or may not be recycled from post-consumer waste.

In terms of which is the best option - it somewhat depends on the consumer and the product. Compostable packaging is a great option, but only if the consumer has an active compost and needs those types of materials for their compost bin. This is also a great option if the consumer has access to an industrial composting facility, but that might not always be the case.

The same can be said for choosing between post-consumer and recyclable packaging. Recyclable packaging is a great sustainable alternative, but only if the consumer knows how to properly dispose of it and that their area has a good recycling program that will turn their material into something new. For post-consumer materials, a lot of the time these materials will not be able to be used to make another product so it is likely the end of their lifecycle. This is unfortunate, but you are still helping to avoid the use of new, virgin raw materials by choosing this option.

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Benefits of PCR Packaging

For today’s consumers and businesses - sustainable packaging is no longer something that is a nice-to-have, but essential. As the effects of climate change become clearer than ever before, everyone is looking closely at the products around them and trying to better understand the work that the company is doing to limit their impact on the environment.

Reduces pre-consumer content on packaging

One of the key benefits of post-consumer recycled packaging is that it is able to make really great quality products that meet the packaging standards companies and consumers are used to. The materials are often made to be right around the same level of quality - so they are able to craft products that do the job. 

Eliminates an extra step in the recycling process

The other key benefit of choosing PCR packaging is that it doesn’t require any work on the consumer end for this to be a sustainable alternative. For recyclable and compostable packaging - you are asking the consumer to take action in some way or another and that is something that is both difficult to track and taking out of your control. To take it a step further with recycled packaging, it is not only asking the consumer to do something, but also then at the mercy of the city or recycling organization that picks up the materials. PCR packaging, on the other hand, are products that you can distinctly say made and impact and measure it, because you are deferring the use of virgin, raw materials at the point of sale. 

Make Small Changes With a Big Impact

Packaging is just one piece of the puzzle, but it is certainly also at the forefront in many ways - particularly because of the amount of plastic packaging that has been used for the last few decades. As the consumption of products continues to tick up as well, it is even more important that sustainable packaging is being used. It's never too late to minimize the environmental impact of your spending habits. Aside from no longer purchasing products from plastic containers, be more conscious of the raw material used in packaging.

Aside from using more products with sustainable packaging, there are other ways you can incorporate sustainable habits. For instance, aside from recycling, you can also start using products made out of recycled materials, such as recycled paper towels. Check out the other sustainable paper products on our website.


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