High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is the most commonly used plastic in the world. It’s lightweight, strong, and malleable. It’s used for everything from milk jugs to underground pipes. On the underside of every HDPE product is a number two – its resin identification code. These codes were designed decades ago to kick-start plastics recycling, but today only 30 percent of HDPE bottles in the U.S. are recycled.
To help change this, Werner & Mertz, a German holding company, has partnered with bottle producers ALPLA-Werke and The Green Dot to develop bottles made from 100 percent HDPE recyclates.
Recycled HDPE can be turned into another bottle or pipe, or even a recycling bin. Werner & Mertz’s bottles won last year’s World Packaging Award, proving that recycled HDPE can produce world-standard quality packaging. Colour haze can be prevented, so the bottles look good as well as functioning well.
Werner & Mertz’s owner, Reinhard Schneider, commented that the company has "shown what genuine recyclability looks like.” He went on to state the partnership with The Green Dot and ALPLA-Werke has “produced results where other companies claim to have visions or only make promises."
The award-winning bottles are proof the HDPE recycling can be done more often and more creatively. Plastics and hydrocarbons are a waste product, no matter how recyclable they are. Re-use means delaying their endpoint, and institutionalised re-use would mean fewer plastics are produced. With HDPE being so commonly used and so easily recycled, it’s possible for manufacturers, retailers, and waste collection organisations to re-use plastics in place of creating more – this is beneficial to the environment but also convenient for business.