Recycled plastics analysis to drive insight into the quality and performance of the most commonly recycled plastics through chemical testing, migration studies and processability evaluations

Recycled plastic analysis and testing are crucial for maintaining their value within the recycling value chain. The quality and performance of products derived from recycled plastics heavily depend on meticulous analysis and testing protocols. However, challenges arise from potential variations in feedstock composition and contamination. Factors like coatings, colorants, additives, and ink coverage further impact the quality and appearance of recyclates. With a growing focus on regulatory developments aiming to ensure a greater proportion of reusable or recyclable plastics, recycled plastics analysis plays a key role in aligning with sustainability goals.

We offer recycled plastic analysis services as part of our CircularAssure program, including chemical testing, compositional testing, processability evaluations, mechanical testing, migration studies for food contact applications, and non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) screening. Our comprehensive analysis provides insights into recycled material composition and processing suitability, guiding further analysis and processing decisions for materials such as polyesters (including PET and PEN), polyolefines (HDPE, LDPE, LLDPE), vinyl based polymers and styrene based polymers.

Recycled Plastics Chemical Analysis:

Our polymer analysis laboratories utilize a wide range of techniques, including spectroscopy, microscopy, and chromatography, combined with extensive knowledge of industry-standard test methods. These methods drive insight into your material’s chemical composition and 'fingerprint', aiding in understanding degradation and performance over the product's lifetime.
•    Spectroscopy – Infra-Red spectroscopy (FTIR) with ATR, FTIR microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and Raman microscopy, UV/Vis spectrometry, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR)
•    Chromatography (GPC / HT- GPC, GC, GC-MS, GC/GC-MS HPLC, LC-MS)
•    Thermal DMTA, DSC, TGA, DMA
•    Elemental Analysis – includes ICP-OES, XRF and SEM-EDAX
•    Microscopy
•    Plus a range of classical and wet chemical techniques such as titrations 

Processability and Evaluation Programs:

We utilize common processing approaches such as injection molding, cast film extrusion, and blown film extrusion to produce test materials for evaluating physical properties. These tests provide valuable insights into process stability, material uniformity, quality, and impurity assessment. Additionally, a suite of tests including tensile, flexural, and impact testing, along with thermal analysis methods like DSC and DMA, offers a comprehensive understanding of material performance and suitability for various applications.

NIAS Screening for Recycled Plastics:
The use of post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR) materials in food contact applications presents challenges in determining non-intentionally added substances (NIAS). Our screening program begin with a review of the recycled granules/articles, identifying substances and quantities present. During migration studies, exposure to simulants under specific conditions reveals migrating substances, followed by screening of NIAS using GC-MS and LC-MS methods. Whilst NIAS analytical studies can be challenging, our scientists design analytical programs to meet obligations defined in the regulatory guidance whilst also taking steps to overcome the technical challenges presented by the lack of information on composition of material additives, highly complex chromatographic data, lack of literature information or analytical standards to aid confirmation of the identification of the substance.

Verified Recycled Content Certification:
In addition to recycled plastics analysis, our Verified Recycled Content program supports suppliers and manufacturers in validating and communicating pre-consumer and/or post-consumer recycled content in their materials, products, or packages in accordance with global labeling standards.

With over 30 years of experience in plastics analysis and a global laboratory network located in the Netherlands, UK, Switzerland, India, China, and the US, we are the preferred partner for numerous stakeholders in the recycled plastic value chain worldwide.

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