The three routes for plastic material circulation
Materials can be circulated through a technical process recycling or through a biological process composting (and for some materials, anaerobic digestion). Looking at material circulation through the lens of plastic packaging, this means there are three main routes to consider: (1) choosing a plastic type (e.g. PET) and packaging design that can be circulated through a recycling route. (2) choosing a plastic type (e.g. PHA) and packaging design that can be circulated through a compostingMicrobial breakdown of organic matter in the presence of oxygen. route or, (3) choosing to substitute a different, non-plastic material (e.g. paper) and designing that material for recycling or composting.
Plastic packaging is broken down (mechanically or chemically) and the resulting materials are used to make new products (this excludes energy recovery and the use of the material as a fuel).
Plastic packaging is decomposed in a home or industrial composting facility, producing biomass, water and CO2.
Plastic packaging is replaced with non-plastic packaging (for example paper or aluminium), and designed for recycling or composting. Read more about material circulation on p.116 in the full guide.