TYPES OF PLASTIC
Type 1 – Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) or Crystalline polyethylene terephthalate (CPET)
- PET plastic is a clear and solid substance that can withstand humidity and gas very well. This type of plastic is frequently used for soft drink bottles and many other kinds of injection-moulded containers destined for consumer goods. It is also used to manufacture strapping, moulding compounds and various containers. Cleaned and recycled PET tablets and granules are in high demand, as they are turned into fibres which are then used to make carpets, stuffing and geotextile membranes. They are often called polyesters.
Type 5 – Polypropylene (PP)
- In addition to being rigid, polypropylene resists well to chemical agents and boasts the lowest density of all plastic packaging materials. Its high melting point makes it ideal for products that are filled when hot (e.g. ketchup bottles). PP is used to make all kinds of household products, from rigid and flexible packaging to large moulded parts for the car or retail industries.
Type 2 – High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
- Non-pigmented HDPE bottles are transparent and rigid and have great barrier properties. Pigmented HDPE can better withstand tensions, fractures and chemical agents than non-pigmenter bottles. They are perfectly suited for products with a short shelf life. HDPE is used for juice, soft drink, water and bleach bottles. Because HDPE is good at resisting chemical agents, it is also used in the packaging of many household and industrial cleaning products, such as detergent and bleach.
Type 3 – Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Not only is PVC physically and electrically stable, but it also resists well to chemical agents, is weatherproof and puncture resistant. The many vinyl-based products can be subdivided into categories according to their rigidity and flexibility. The most common rigid products include bottles, building materials such as pipes and couplings, siding, carpet backing, and windows. Soft vinyl is primarily used for wire and cable casing, films and sheets, floor coverings, synthetic leather products, coatings, medical tubing and more.
Type 4 – Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
- LDPE is used mainly for plastic films because it is durable, flexible, and reasonably transparent. It is in particularly high demand for products that are heat-sealed. LDPE is also used to make lids, flexible bottles, grocery and garbage bags and milk carton coatings. Furthermore, it is frequently used for wires and cables because of it properties and processing characteristics.
Type 6 – Polystyrene (PS)
- Polystyrene is a very versatile material that comes in either rigid or film format. Multipurpose polystyrene is clear, solid and brittle. Its melting point is relatively low. We can find it in protective packaging, containers, lids, cups, bottles and trays.
Type 7 – Polylactic acid (PLA) and other plastics (OTHER)
- Polylactic acid (or PLA) is a completely biodegradable polymer used for food packaging (e.g. eggs, mineral water, fruits and vegetables) that replaces plastic bags and totes used in stores until now. It is also used in many injected, extruded or thermoformed objects and even for surgery, where sutures are done with biodegradable polymers that decompose when in contact with water or through the work of enzymes. PLA is a substance made from corn starch, making it the first natural alternative to polyethylene (the term “bioplastic” is even used). In fact, polylactic acid results from the fermentation of sugar or starch by bacteria that synthesize lactic acid. Very quickly, lactic acid is polymerized through a new fermentation process and becomes polylactic acid.
- A biodegradable product has the ability to break down, safely and relatively quickly by biological means into the raw materials of nature and disappear into the environment.
- Quality of a biodegradable substance. Biodegradability is calculated by combining how much a substance has decomposed and the time it took to reach that level of decomposition.
- A plastic is said to be compostable if it can be decomposed through organic processes during composting. It leaves behind CO2, water, organic matter and biomass at a speed that is comparable to that of other known compostable substances and does not generate any visible or recognizable toxic residue.
- A degradable product decomposes in a way in which matter can easily be absorbed back into the environment, without having any important impact on the environment. Product packaging usually refers to a product’s biodegradability and photodegradability when making statements about degradability.
- By definition, the word “durable” implies the prolonged use of a product and its capacity to resist wear and tear. From an environmental standpoint, durable products are ideal as they can be reused or modernized, reducing the quantity of garbage making its way into landfills and the amount of raw materials used to produce it.
- A term that applies to plastics to which an additive has been added and which will first undergo degradation through direct sunlight (UV rays), heat and/or mechanical stress. The leftover residues are then biodegradable.
Recycled or recyclable (Recycled or recyclable content)
- This symbol is used to recognize the products made from recycled or recyclable content.
These products are identified with a Möbius strip symbol. You can find the symbol on many items, including products made from recycled or recyclable content. The logo is usually shown in a dark circle or on a recyclable material.
The logo comes in many different formats, depending on where it was printed. On plastic items, you will find it alongside the number of the type of plastic resin used in the product so as to make recycling easier. On paper, it is often used to indicate the percentage of recycled fibres using in making the product.
There are two types of recycled content:
Recycled pre-consumer waste content is recycled content that has not yet been used by consumers. This could include, for example, leftovers from an industrial process that cannot be reused in the same plant or for the same process (e.g. pulp and paper mill waste is reused in the same plant). To properly declare the use of recycled pre-consumer waste content, a supplier must prove that, had the content not been recycled, it would
Recycled post-consumer waste content comes from institutional, commercial or residential facilities. It can no longer be used for its original purpose and is separated from regular waste for recycling (e.g. paper or aluminum cans). Post-consumer waste content does not include materials produced as part of an industrial process, including materials that can be reshaped, recrushed or reworked and clippings produced on site, which can be reused for the same process as the one which created them in the first place.
- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is the federal agency tasked with regulating food safety in Canada. It is also involved in environmental protection, agricultural economics, animal health, and plant protection. Founded in 1997, the CFIA is led by a president who reports to the Minister of Agriculture. The president is supported by a board who ensures CFIA respects its scientific commitments and continues to oversee food production, from primary production to retail.
- National Sanitation Foundation
BNQ – Compostable Product
- Certifies that a product can be composted in an industrial environment.
*Important: It does not necessarily mean that a product can be composted in a household environment.
The BNQ certification program for compostable products was created by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) as a response to the work done by the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) task group. In an effort to promote composting, CCME wanted to develop a certification program for compostable products. Not having the required expertise in house, the CCME commissioned the BNQ to create the specifications and protocol for such a program.
The following types of products are eligible for the program:
- Naturally sourced materials (wood, cotton, starch, sugar cane, etc.)
One of the program’s unique features is its focus on products that can be composted only in industrial settings. This, therefore, means that the products featuring the program’s logo might not be compostable in a household environment. Furthermore, the products covered by this certification program should not be confused with oxobiodegradable products.
According to this certification program, a compostable product is defined as:
Compostable: A product that will decompose biologically in a composting site to an extent where it is not visually recognizable and has degraded into carbon dioxide, water, inorganic matter and biomass at a rate that is comparable to that of other known compostable materials.
Moreover, a product can only be recognized as compostable by this standard if, once decomposed, the concentration of metals is at least 25% inferior to the standard established by the Canadian Food Council.
- The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program was created in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). In 2004, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) adapted the U.S. LEED standards to Canada’s climate, building practices and laws. The Canadian program, developed by and for the Canadian industry, is managed by the CaGBC. The North American standards program has become an international reference point for the design, building and operation of green buildings. Nowadays, more than 35,000 buildings in 91 countries are LEED certified. LEED does not, however, only focus on environmental performance; it also aims to improve the energy efficiency of the building as well as the comfort and safety of its occupants.
A second definition: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide. Developed by the not-for-profit organization U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), it includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods that aim to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently. In Canada, the program is managed by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).
Green Label / Green Label Plus
- The Green Seal Program, one of North America’s main eco-label was created in 1989. It meets ISO 14024 standards regarding type 1 labels and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standards regarding independent third-party audits. The program is managed independently by Green Seal, a not-for-profit organization. Alongside Ecologo, another Canadian program, Green Seal was one of the founding members of the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN). In Canada, the Green Seal is not as well known because EcoLogo, created in Canada, imposes specifications for many of the same products. Partnerships between the labels have made it easier for a brand approved by one of the logos to be more easily recognized by the other one. The program currently covers many categories of products and services. Among them are:
- Maintenance products
- Maintenance services
- Institutional products
- Paper products
- Personal hygiene products
A second definition: Green Seal Certification
Green Seal is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to use science-based programs to empower consumers, purchasers, and companies to create a more sustainable world. Green Seal sets leadership standards that aim to reduce, to the extent technologically and economically feasible, the environmental, health, and social impacts throughout the life-cycle of products, services, and companies. The standards may be used for conformity assessment, purchaser specifications, and public education.
Forest Stewardship Council FSC
- FSC-100%: You are buying a product sourced in its entirety from a forest managed and logged in a sustainable fashion. Product extraction must follow strict pre-established environmental, social and economic guidelines.
FSC-Mix: You are buying a product in which a minimum of 70% of the wood has been sourced from a forest managed and logged in a sustainable fashion. It could also come from recycled paper.
FSC-Recycled: You are buying a product made entirely of reclaimed material and of at least 85% of post-consumer fibres.
- Created in 1988 by the Canadian government, EcoLogo is now recognized around the world. It has become North America’s most respected environmental program. Clients (both consumers and businesses) using products and services which feature the EcoLogo can be certain that the product or service in question has met the strict requirements of environmental leaders. By certifying products and services in more than 120 categories, EcoLogo gives its clients peace of mind, knowing they are buying the greenest products available.
You can find the EcoLogo label on products and services in the following categories:
- Containers, packaging, pouches and bags
- Consumer goods
- Maintenance and cleaning products
- Pulp and paper products
CRADLE TO CRADLE C2C Certification
- Certifies the low toxicity of a product and its recyclability. Products certified under this program contain little toxic content (heavy metals, PVC, chloroprene, etc.) and are almost entirely recyclable or compostable. Furthermore, the certification requires that products be recycled once their useful life has ended.
CSA Z809 – Sustainable Forest Management
- Certifies that a product was sourced from a forest managed and logged in a sustainable fashion. The company must have practices in place that ensure the sound management of its forests.
- Recognizes sustainable forest management
- Canadian standard
- Compatible with the PEFC program
The CSA Z809 sustainable forest management standard was published in 1996 and concerns vast forested areas. The standard comprises six requirements as established by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. Since the creation of the standard, 65 million hectares of forest have been certified. In 2008, a new standard — the CSA Z804 — was created to protect smaller wooded areas.
Biodegradable within 28 days–OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)’s 301D or 310E standard
- The OECD’s logo guarantees that at least 60% of the product will biodegrade within 28 days.