The R-Cycle Initiative, founded in 2020 by various technology companies and organizations across the plastic packaging lifecycle, is transitioning into an open community. This is the next important step for R-Cycle to establish its already functional digital traceability standard for plastic packaging in the market and drive an effective circular economy.
“By establishing an open community, we are making R-Cycle accessible to all companies, institutions and stakeholders that have a legitimate interest in the field of circular economy for plastic packaging and want to use, support or further develop R-Cycle themselves. Members gain access to a broad network of application-experienced partners and know-how in digitalization and sustainability. The goal is to realize their own applications, reap benefits and jointly establish R-Cycle worldwide”, Benedikt Brenken, Director of the R-Cycle Initiative, explained.
Technologically, R-Cycle is based on GS1 standards. GS1 is the leading global network for cross-industry process development and is also a founding member of R-Cycle. By providing a digital product passport, all recycling-relevant data is automatically recorded during the production of plastic packaging and made accessible via appropriate markings (e.g. digital watermarks or QR codes) on intermediate and end products. This enables waste sorting plants to accurately identify packaging and form recycling-friendly as well as single-variety fractions. This is the basis for obtaining high-quality recyclates to build a functioning circular economy.
R-Cycle is already operational and has been successfully tested in a number of pilot projects. Under the umbrella of GS1 Germany, a project has also been launched based on R-Cycle to develop the GS1 guideline PDS4CircularPlastics (Processes and data sharing approach for enabling circular plastics value networks). This again underlines the approach of the companies involved to establish R-Cycle as an industry standard.
In addition to effectively improving product sustainability, manufacturers and converters of plastic packaging will also benefit in terms of process efficiency, quality and compliance with legal information requirements. Systems and machines networked with the R-Cycle data platform can obtain precise information on the respective upstream products from the digital product passport and supplement their own data accordingly, which represents added value for customers in the downstream process.