This year, the focus of Earth Day is on investing in our planet and sustainable systems for a cleaner, more efficient world. One way that Star Plastics is helping our customers achieve their sustainability initiatives is through our reNova™ Recycled-Content Resins, a wide range of high-performing engineered polymers that contain recycled content from pre-consumer and post-consumer products, information technology equipment and even ocean-bound plastics.
Using recycled content helps minimize environmental impacts because it lowers greenhouse gas emissions, reduces energy use, prevents waste, and conserves our planet’s limited resources. But at a time when the demand for high-performing recycled materials is increasing, how can manufacturers be sure that recycled content is truly sourced as described?
Star Plastics has answered that concern by receiving the Recycled Content Environmental Claim Validation from UL Solutions, a globally recognized leader in applied safety science. The third-party validation, based on UL 2809 Environmental Claim Validation Procedure (ECVP) for Recycled Content, demonstrates that our reNova Recycled Resins are responsibly made, sustainable materials.
Recently we talked to Mike Watson, director of business development at Star Plastics, to learn more about the UL Environment Recycled Content certification process and what it means to customers. Here’s what he had to say:
Why did Star Plastics pursue the UL Environment validation for recycled content?
This is just the latest step in our 35-year sustainability journey. Star Plastics was formed in 1988 as a post-industrial recycling company. Since then, we’ve provided recycled content for products in the Electrical and Electronics (E/E) market for more than 15 years and incorporated a total of 20 million pounds of recycled content within our product lines in 2022 alone. We’re very familiar with the recycling market and are among the leaders in the field.
So, when a major customer approached us about obtaining the UL Environment validation for our manufacturing plant in China, we pursued the process and received validation in 2020. We did the same for our West Virginia operations in 2022. We see the validation as another step in maintaining our leadership and evolving with our customers.
What is involved with the validation process?
The UL 2809 Standard specifically measures the amount of recycled content in products. The validation process starts with our suppliers, who sign an affidavit guaranteeing their supply is coming from the source they state. UL then visited our plants to conduct audits on documentation surrounding our products and conducts testing to validate our environmental claims. We also undergo routine audits and testing to retain our status.
The most recent update includes assessments of the social impacts of collecting pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled materials on local economies, including criteria for ocean-bound and ocean sourced plastics. So, it really is a comprehensive process.
How does this help customers?
Many environmental claims can be vague. The UL Solutions Environmental Claim Validation program shows that products have been evaluated by an objective third party and independently validated in accordance with some stringent standards. This helps customers authenticate the post-consumer, post-industrial, closed-loop or total recycled content of their products, providing independent validation that they are as green as they say.
Second, it can help our customers and our customers’ customers advance their sustainability goals. For example, it can help a manufacturer measure its progress toward its goal of increasing the amount of recycled content in products. It also can contribute to LEEDÒ points, which is the most widely used green building rating system.
There’s still a perception in the industry that there is a performance gap between resins made with recycled content vs. virgin materials. What do you say to that?
At Star Plastics, the gap is closed. Our recycled-content polymers are designed to meet a wide range of stringent application needs and performance requirements, such as UL-certified fire-retardant products, custom colors and various combinations of recycled content. Nowadays, there is no need to compromise between sustainability and performance.