ICIPC LOOP ‘ecodesign’ label drives positive change in packaging recycling in Colombia.

Awareness, credibility and transparency are core elements in communicating how sustainability in packaging is being tackled in the polymer industry. Information about the recyclability of plastics can be complex, and concerns about greenwashing can erode trust, so a new approach was needed.

Taking a collaborative approach to sustainability

In response to the challenge, the ICPIC LOOP project has developed two labels, one for ecodesign and one for recycled plastic content, giving consumers clear sustainability information on certified products

Led by the Instituto De Capacitación E Investigación Del Plástico Y Del Caucho (ICIPC), the project brought together contributors including AcoPlásticos, Essentia, Dow, Kuraray, Plastilene Group, Alico, Microplast and Coldeplast, Kajiplast, Amcor, ARclad, among others. The process was undertaken in three stages:

Identification of needs: Through the packaging clusters, at least three ecolabels were identified that addressed the communication needs of the Colombian polymer packaging industry: eco-design label, recycled plastic content label and circularity label (still in progress).

Development of the ecodesign label: The methodology for evaluating ecodesign criteria adhered to international guidelines such as environmental declarations, ISO 14020, ISO 14021, and EN 13430, among others. In developing this methodology, Law 1407 of Colombia on Extended Producer Responsibility (REP) and Resolution 2184-2019, article 4, which guides users on the final disposal of waste for management chain utilization, were also considered.

Development of the recycled plastic content label: A methodology was established to certify the recycled plastic content of a product following an international regulatory framework, primarily ISO 14020, ISO 14021, and EN 15343. This is accomplished through a third-party audit conducted by the ICIPC, where an analysis of the company’s mass flow is conducted, and the traceability of pre-consumer and post-consumer source materials is verified.

Trusted and certified plastic labelling

Ecodesign ecolabels emphasize the importance of packaging reusability, which impacts the entire recycling value chain – from brands selecting packaging materials to end-users making disposal choices. These labels assess material selection, recyclability, and resource efficiency, driving companies towards sustainable practices and reducing environmental impact throughout a product’s lifecycle. Similarly, recycled plastic content ecolabels promote circular economy principles by encouraging the use of recycled materials, reducing reliance on virgin plastics and minimizing waste generation. These ecolabels empower consumers to make informed choices, support sustainable products, and contribute to broader environmental conservation efforts.

(a) Eco-design label; (b) Recycled plastic content label; (c) Circularity label (in development stage)

Brands that have already joined the LOOP ICIPC initiative and have been certified with the ecodesign label include Proctech Protection Technology, Colanta, Iberplast, Brinsa, Ciplas, and Excala Group.

“Sustainability implies a new way of communicating. Given the number of ecolabels and variety of claims on packaging, which are sometimes ambiguous, leading to greenwashing and confusing the consumer, the policies of the Plastilene Group are to provide supported and clear information about our products according to international standards, as well as to support initiatives that allow formalizing communication with the consumer. […] The ICIPC labels represent benefits to our clients within the Extended Producer Responsibility (REP) framework and facilitate the way for them to certify their products.”

Grupo Plastilene

Long-term benefits

The longer-term impact of the LOOP ICIPC project has been significant in promoting sustainable practices within the packaging industry. Through the ecolabels project, there have been tangible changes in consumer awareness and industry practices. This shift has improved the sustainability of products and enhanced consumer trust and loyalty towards brands committed to eco-conscious practices. Companies can make these environmental declarations with technical support from an impartial third party such as ICIPC.

“The relevance of this certification, which applies to our national and export products, is that it is possible to validate the good practices of manufacturers and processors of raw materials, as it demonstrates that the product is ready for the closing of the cycle.”

Virutex Ilko

Responsible packaging design and production

For example, there has been a systemic change towards a more circular and environmentally responsible approach to packaging by companies and brands. The ecodesign label’s assessment of packaging’s usability in recycling chains has encouraged companies to prioritize materials and designs that facilitate recycling and reduce environmental impact. Packaging design and production are being addressed differently, with more consideration of the end-of-life implications of products. By highlighting the percentage of recycled plastic content, the label incentivizes companies to invest in circular economy principles, thereby reducing plastic waste and conserving resources. And companies are keen to show that they are working with sustainable principles in mind.

“Aware of our responsibility as a company dedicated to the manufacture and production of GRP (Glass Fibre Reinforced Polyester) solutions, we seek to make known that, through this certificate, we guarantee the use of certain percentages of recycled material for the manufacture of posts, grates, spacers, jackets and composite materials.”

Invesa S.A

The label is particularly important as Colombia’s Law 2232 on Single-Use Plastics imposes taxes on certain products classified as disposable or single-use. Indeed, successful certification for the label’s requirements can help companies obtain future tax reductions, making it financial as well as sustainable good practice.

Launch of the Ideplas S.A.S. recycled plastic content label at the “Andigrafica” exhibition in Bogotá, Colombia (9-12 May 2023)

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