PCR VS PIR: Which approach makes more sense?


While there may be similarities between them, they also have some significant differences

What is PCR?

Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) material is made from waste collected after products can no longer be used – either by households or businesses.

PCR use is critical to achieving a circular economy in the plastics industry.

While it is challenging to separate the variety of dissimilar materials in post-consumer waste, recycling processes for clean and homogenic materials such as PET plastic bottles for drinks are already highly efficient.

What is PIR?

Post-Industrial Recycled Material (PIR) is made from waste that is generated during a manufacturing process – and that cannot re-enter that same process, e.g.: scrap. This waste is collected and recycled to enter new value streams as part of a circular economy.

Often, PIR materials offer elevated levels of quality because they have not been contaminated as much by everyday use.

This means PIR materials enable recycled content use even for products subject to strict quality or regulatory standards. Also, material claimed to be PIR-recycled may not actually be recycled at all, thus requiring trustworthy communication and special attention.

Crucial distinguishing factors

In cases where PCR material of sufficient quality is not available, PIR may be used as an alternative.

PCR is often material from items that consumers most often recycle. Since different types of materials are mixed and the quality varies and may fluctuate, the processing requires advanced recycling and sorting facilities.  PCR material, has a significant positive impact on the circular economy. Furthermore, if the origin of the PCR material is homogenous and clean, e.g.: PET bottles, the recycling endeavor may not be too demanding.


PCR has the greater potential to contribute to the circular economy, but the overall benefit depends on specific conditions in each case.



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