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Identify compatibility issues:

  • materials which are compatible with one another can be recycled together however, using one material is best for recycling
  • the ability to recycle is reduced by paint, flame retardants, EMI shields and other additives
  • When using steel bear in mind that:
    • impurities of copper, brass and tin are problematic in steel recycling
    • the recyclability of steel is affected by copper – so it is important that copper components are designed to be easily removed
    • galvanised steel is not a problem for the recycled steel quality but however, it has to be dealt with as dust emission.
  • When specifying plastics remember:
    • wherever possible, use only one type of plastic
    • or ensure that components made from different materials can be easily separated for recycling
    • plastics (polymers) are not normally recyclable if they are mixed
    • labels need to be compatible with the plastics they are attached to if the plastics are to be effectively recycled
    • contamination can be a problem when recycling plastics
    • contamination can occur if the following are used and should therefore be avoided:
      • dyes and pigments that are permanent in plastic
      • plastic caps and lids that are generally a different resin from the bottle or container they close
      • adhesives that can turn yellow when processed
    • download the compatibility table (link at bottom of page) to identify appropriate combinations of plastics for the use in small parts such as labels (not applicable to component parts)
  • When using glass bear in mind that:
    • clean glass and clean-hardened glass is recyclable when sorted
    • mixtures of glass can be problematic 
    • screen-printed and reflecting glass can not be recycled into first class glass, but down-cycled. 
    • prints and coatings make recycling more difficult
    • silicone and glue left on glass as well as printing with organic colours and coating with silver or aluminium make recycling more difficult
  • When specifying aluminium remember:
    • copper and tin can reduce the ability of aluminium to be recycled
    • aluminium does not degrade in quality when recycled
    • specify recycled aluminium where possible 
  • To encourage and facilitate the recycling of plastics, parts should be marked with symbols that indicate what they are made of.
  • For this purpose use in-mould identification symbols for plastic resins.
    numbers and letters need to be at least 3mm and the triangle at least 1mm high e.g.>PP-T30-FR(52)< 
  • symbols must be easily accessible but not impair the function or product aesthetics
  • symbols can either be embossed or added by silk screening, pad printing or hot plating
  • markings on components in subassemblies should be visible when assembled
  • if not physically possible to mark, it is wise to record material type in project documentation

Download the in-mould identification symbols for plastics below.

Download Resources Here:
Plastics compatability table
In-mould identification symbols for plastics