Recyclable, recycled, biosourced, biodegradable, etc: which differences?
By APCards | Reading time : 4 minutes
The current interest in green materials has led to the emergence of different terms to describe the ecological or eco-friendly aspect of a product. All of these terms may appear similar, but from an environmental point of view they differ significantly.
For better understanding, here are some definitions :
Recyclable : this term only specifies that the product is made of a single material, identified by a number, and that it can be recycled if there is a collection and recycling circuit. If this circuit does not exist, this product cannot be reused and it will end its life like all the non-recyclable products !
Recycled : This refers to products made from recyclable material that has been further processed after being collected and regenerated. In most cases, new products are limited to dark colours due to the colour diversity of the collected products. The number of collection and recycling cycles is very limited.
Biodegradable : refers to a product of plant origin that can be decomposed by micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi, algae) and does not release any toxic substances during its degradation at the end of its life. The EN 14995* standard attests to this property. Any product of petroleum origin can claim this designation.
Biosourced : indicates the natural origin of the components, derived from biomass, i.e. the organic matter present on Earth. The biomass used for the manufacture of bio-based plastics is often of plant origin and comes from different activities such as agriculture or the food industry (corn starch for example). In any case, a product containing only a partial content of biobased material, mixed with petroleum, is of very limited interest as it would remove any possibility of recycling or biodegradability.
*standard used for the APCards Veget’all range
Reminder of the logos used for recycling and their (real) meaning :
Recycling is the process of treating waste and reintroducing the resulting materials into the production cycle of other equivalent or different products. Below are the meanings of the different recycling icons used by manufacturers to help you distinguish between products that are truly eco-friendly and those that are not…
The Green Dot means that the manufacturer has paid a fee to Eco-Packaging. In no way indicates that the product is recycled.
The Möbius strip indicates that the product is technically recyclable but does not guarantee its recycling.
The Möbius strip and the percentage in the centre specifies the proportion of recycled materials used in the manufacture of the product.
The Triman icon is on the French market since 2015 on all recyclable products / packaging to indicate that they must be sorted for possible recycling.
The Tidyman is a common-sense symbol to encourage consumers to put their waste in a bin and not in the open air or on the public highway.
The resin identification code is specific to plastics and only provides information on the composition of the product. Plastics coded by a number (here 5 for Polypropylene).
Identification codes for plastic resins
In the field of plastics processing, a simplified form of the Mobius strip is used to provide information on the component material of the product. Here are the identification codes of the different plastic resins.