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ISRI and APR Release Updated Recycled Plastic Specifications

November 15, 2023

3 Min Read
ISRI and APR Release Updated Recycled Plastic Specifications

ISRI, "Voice of the Recycled Materials Industry™, and The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) have announced the latest update to the ISRI Specifications and APR Model Bale Specifications to include updated recycled plastics specifications. Following a collaborative process between the two organizations and their members, the specifications were approved separately during October 2023 by both the ISRI Board of Directors and  the APR Board of Directors. These specification updates are intended to more accurately reflect the recycled Polypropylene (PP) and Mixed Rigid plastics currently being traded in the marketplace.

Revised Specifications:

Specification: PP Small Rigid Plastic

Specification: Mixed Small Rigid Plastic

Specification: Mixed Bulky Rigid Plastic

For ISRI, this release serves as the 30-day public notice as required by the stated rules governing the procedures from the addition, amendment, or withdrawal of ISRI’s Specifications. Further information can be found in the ISRI Specifications. To submit comments, recommendations, or questions please contact ISRI Chief Economist and Director of Commodities Joe Pickard ([email protected]) or ISRI Senior Economist Bret Biggers ([email protected]). 

These three proposed revisions replace several existing PP and Mixed Rigid specifications to reduce confusion and better reflect the scope of what is traded and processed in today’s marketplace. ISRI would like to thank the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) for contributing their expertise in the development of these revisions.

“These most recent ISRI and APR Specifications updates align with the recycled materials industry focus on  technological innovations and Design for Recycling®,” said ISRI President Robin Wiener. “The changes announced reflect the ongoing review by dedicated volunteers in ISRI’s Plastics and our partnership with the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR). Our partnership allows us to work together to strengthen our specifications.”

As a result of technological innovations – including optical sorters, robotics and the application of artificial intelligence - the industry can now sort and process plastics for recycling more effectively than ever before. However, the continually evolving packaging and recycling streams mean that updated bale specifications and recycling-compatible package design remain critical to maintain and improve recycled material quality.

“We are pleased to continue collaborative efforts with ISRI to facilitate recycled market consistency and quality,” said Steve Alexander, APR President & CEO. “It is also essential to note that items listed as commonly accepted should be designed to be compatible with the recycling stream so they don’t contribute to reduced yield or quality of recycled material which is required to align with the APR Design® Guide for Plastics Recyclability.”

These specifications facilitate communication between MRFs and reclaimers by describing what materials are commonly accepted. They also clearly convey the contaminants  that are tolerable at  low levels and those that are prohibited because they are difficult or dangerous for reclaimers to manage. 

For more than 100 years, the ISRI specifications, strengthened by the collaboration with APR for plastic commodities, have helped promote consistency and quality in the trade of recycled materials in the U.S. and around the world. Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration this invaluable resource is accessible online to anyone at any time.  

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ISRI is the "Voice of the Recycled Materials Industry™," representing more than 1,600 companies in the U.S. and 40 countries around the globe. Based in Washington, D.C., ISRI provides advocacy, education, safety and compliance training, and promotes public awareness of the vital role recycled materials play in the U.S. economy, global trade, the environment and sustainable development.

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