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How recyclable a package is depends on its design. And between new innovations in some of these designs and a spike in sheer volumes of these spent products, materials recovery facilities (MRF) are hard pressed to manage what comes into their plants. MRFs often get updated or retrofitted every 8 to 10 years and in the interim, along have come stand-up pouches, full wrap shrink labels, product-enhancing additives, and other packaging materials, forcing operators to constantly try to update their technology.
Some manufacturers and MRFs are starting to work together to ensure evolving products make it through recycling infrastructure, but these partnerships are not an industrywide effort, says Steve Alexander, president of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR).