HPRC’s Guiding Principles on Advanced Recycling

On our mission to create a circular economy for healthcare plastics, HPRC has embarked on project work exploring advanced recycling technologies (also known as chemical recycling or molecular recycling) to determine if multi-laminate plastic waste common in healthcare settings and mixed healthcare plastics would be suitable feedstocks and could support a circular plastics supply chain for the healthcare industry.

Our work since 2020 has consisted of extensive research and interviews with advanced recycling companies to evaluate various advanced recycling technologies and their applicability to healthcare plastics waste streams; partnering with select advanced recyclers to process and test a simulated waste stream consisting of post-industrial scrap healthcare packaging materials; and expanding this effort by processing healthcare packaging materials collected directly from hospitals.

From our recent advanced recycling work supplemented with our years of learnings since 2010, HPRC firmly asserts that advanced recycling technologies offer a viable solution for recycling challenging healthcare plastics that would otherwise be destined for landfills or incineration. Moreover, these technologies present an opportunity to support a circular economy for healthcare plastics, reduce reliance on virgin plastic made from fossil fuels, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

This document defines HPRC’s guiding principles regarding the use of advanced recycling technologies for healthcare plastics. These principles align with the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Chemical Recycling Implementation Principles and encompass topics such as the most efficient use of technology, environment and human health safeguards, claims and chain of custody, complementary relationship with mechanical recycling and circular enablement. This guidance document compliments other HPRC work, including HPRC’s Design Guidance to enhance recyclability.

HPRC’s Advanced Recycling Guiding Principles

Overview of Our Guiding Principles

  1. Utilize the Most Efficient Technology with Reduced Carbon Footprint
  2. Prioritize Human Safety and Safeguard Nature
  3. Ensure Truthful Claims Supported by a Chain of Custody
  4. Complement Mechanical Recycling
  5. Promote Material-to-Material Recycling for Circularity