What is the difference?
The difference between PCR and PIR comes down to the source of the waste material which is recycled and used to make new plastic products.
PCR stands for post-consumer recycled. PCR resins are made from materials that have been used by the consumer and then discarded.
PIR stands for post-industrial recycled. PIR resins are made from the waste generated during the manufacturing process rather than from a product than has been consumed.
What are the advantages of PCR?
- Using PCR plastic helps to divert plastic waste away from landfills and reduce plastic pollution.
- Virgin plastic materials are made from the polymers found in crude oil. By using recycled resins, you are reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.
- Any packaging made from 30% PCR content is Plastic Packaging Tax compliant. This can help you save money as it allows you to avoid the charge of £200 per tonne which is levied on plastic packaging which falls below the 30% recycled content threshold.
- PCR plastics help contribute to a truly circular economy.
What are the disadvantages of PCR?
- The quality of PCR plastics can vary significantly depending on the source materials and the recycling process used. Inconsistent quality makes it challenging to predict and control the performance of recycled plastic products.
- The recycling process can result in colour variations and aesthetic imperfections in PCR plastics.
- PCR resins often have inferior mechanical properties (e.g., strength, durability, and heat resistance) compared to virgin plastics. This can limit their suitability for certain high-performance applications.
- The PCR recycling process requires high tech equipment and is much more complicated than PIR recycling. This is because the flow of post-consumer plastics for recycling is much harder to control and there are many different types of plastic mixed together and they require extensive cleaning to prevent contamination.
What are the advantages of PIR?
- Using PIR reduces the demand for new raw materials and conserves natural resources.
- As with PCR, by using PIR you are helping divert plastic waste away from landfill and preventing plastic pollution.
- The flow of waste materials used to make PIR plastic is much easier to control that PCR. Because there is more control over the consistency of PIR feedstock, this means that PIR plastics tend to have a much higher quality and significantly better performance.
- It is commonly believed that PIR plastic packaging is not Plastic Packaging Tax compliant, however this is incorrect. Any plastic packaging with 30% PIR content falls the right side of the tax.
- The PIR recycling process is much cheaper and simpler than the PCR recycling process because there is more control over the raw materials.
What are the disadvantages of PIR?
- The supply of post-industrial recycled plastic can be limited and subject to fluctuations based on the availability of manufacturing waste.
It seen to be as sustainable as PCR plastics and post-consumer waste is the bigger problem which needs solving.