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Circular Economy

Do you know what Recyclability is?

12 de May de 2022

Despite being related, having recyclability and being recyclable are not necessarily the same thing for different reasons such as: collection barriers, high cost of recycling and economic inefficiency of the operation, unavailability of technology or lack of initiatives to reuse it on an industrial scale. For example, it is common for a material to be recyclable but not recycled.


This is how recyclability has become one of the most important characteristics of any material produced nowadays, due to the growing discussion about the environmental impact of production and post-industrial and post-consumption waste. This characteristic has to do with the operational capacity of recyclers, as well as the suitability of certain products for these operations, which is why specialists argue that manufacturers’ concern with recyclability should be present right from the conception and design of packaging and the products in general.


The importance of recyclability

A US citizen produces, on average, two kilograms of garbage per day. In Brazil, this amount drops by half, but this does not stop them from producing 55 trillion kilograms of garbage in just one year.

The biggest problem, aside from the huge amount of waste and inadequate disposal, is that part of the waste that is recycled has low recyclability and ends up in nature or in landfills. If there were structure to meet the demand, or planning since the beginning of the products development or packaging process, this waste could gain a new life cycle through recycling.


What about plastics?

Despite being fully recyclable, through chemical or mechanical recycling, plastic is not immune to recyclability problems, as are several materials. Flexible plastic packages are the ones that face greater difficulties, for factors such as having layers of different materials, which makes their composition more complex,

making the recycling process more difficult.


Printing on packaging is another obstacle to recycling. To mitigate these issues, water-based inks that are removed in recycling have been developed, using a high-temperature water process.

Another technique used by some recyclers is to subject printed packaging to an abrasive process to wear it down, but this is a process that damages the properties of the plastic, generating more waste.

All this makes recycling less efficient and profitable, that is, as a rule, the greater the presence of colored contaminants, additives and other substances in the recycled plastic, the lower the market price, the less interest there is from collectors and, therefore, the greater the amount of waste.


Valgroup and Deink Brazil

Speaking of challenges for the recycling of flexible packaging, in order to reach the goal of recycling 100% of what it produces by 2040, Valgroup invests in Deink Brazil, developer of the innovative de-inking process, which promotes the total removal of inks from printed plastic waste, whether from post-industrial or post-consumption origin. With this, it is possible to include in the mechanical recycling chain products that today are landfilled, expanding the circular economy.


Calculating Recyclability

Recently, the Plastic Circularity Network, the first and largest Brazilian initiative in favor of a Circular Economy for plastics, of which Valgroup is a member, developed RETORNA, a free online tool that calculates the recyclability index of plastic packaging under development, based on the Brazilian scenario and the specific characteristics of each region. In this way, it contributes to the creation of more appropriate packaging for recycling operations throughout the country, reducing the waste of natural resources and energy, as well as ensuring that less waste ends up in nature or in landfills.


Curious to see how RETORNA works? Go ahead and test it with your packaging. It only takes a few minutes.


To learn more about Valgroup’s recycling initiatives and goals, go to

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