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Article

Plastic Bottle Cap Recycling—Characterization of Recyclate Composition and Opportunities for Design for Circularity

1
Institute of Polymeric Materials and Testing, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Altenberger Strasse 69, 4040 Linz, Austria
2
Institute for Analytical Chemistry, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Altenberger Strasse 69, 4040 Linz, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10378; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410378
Received: 17 November 2020 / Revised: 7 December 2020 / Accepted: 10 December 2020 / Published: 11 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recycling and Sustainability of Plastics)
In line with efforts to create a circular economy of plastics, recent EU legislation is strengthening plastic bottle recycling by ambitious separate collection targets and mandatory recycled content obligations. Furthermore, explicit design requirements on the caps of bottles and composite beverage packaging have been introduced. These caps are typically made of polyethylene or polypropylene and often contain additives such as slip agents and anti-statics. Commercially available bottle cap recyclates (BCRs) as well as specifically formulated model compounds were analyzed in terms of composition by means of infrared spectroscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, and high-performance liquid chromatography. Their composition was found to be heterogeneous due to polyolefin cross-contamination, directly reflecting the diversity of cap materials present in the market. Slip agent legacy additives originating from the initial use phase were found and quantified in both commercial and model cap recyclates. This highlights the opportunity for redesigning plastic bottle caps not only in response to regulatory requirements, but to pursue a more comprehensive strategy of product design for circularity. By including considerations of polymer resin and additive choice in cap manufacturing, more homogeneous waste streams could be derived from plastic bottle cap recycling, enabling recycling into more demanding and valuable applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: circular economy; design for circularity; EU policy; legacy additives; mechanical recycling; plastic bottle cap; polyethylene; polypropylene; single-use plastics directive; slip agent circular economy; design for circularity; EU policy; legacy additives; mechanical recycling; plastic bottle cap; polyethylene; polypropylene; single-use plastics directive; slip agent
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gall, M.; Schweighuber, A.; Buchberger, W.; W. Lang, R. Plastic Bottle Cap Recycling—Characterization of Recyclate Composition and Opportunities for Design for Circularity. Sustainability 2020, 12, 10378. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410378

AMA Style

Gall M, Schweighuber A, Buchberger W, W. Lang R. Plastic Bottle Cap Recycling—Characterization of Recyclate Composition and Opportunities for Design for Circularity. Sustainability. 2020; 12(24):10378. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410378

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gall, Markus, Andrea Schweighuber, Wolfgang Buchberger, and Reinhold W. Lang. 2020. "Plastic Bottle Cap Recycling—Characterization of Recyclate Composition and Opportunities for Design for Circularity" Sustainability 12, no. 24: 10378. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410378

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