Glossary

A

Alternative Energy 

Energy generated in ways that do not deplete natural resources or harm the environment, especially by avoiding the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

 

Alternative Materials 

Changing the materials used to perform a function for either increased economic value or environmental impact. An example could be Lightweighting, where plastic is used as packaging for a product as an alternative material to glass due to reduced economic and environmental cost of transportation, because the material is lighter.



B

Biobased 

A product determined to be a commercial or industrial product (other than food or feed) that is composed, in whole or in significant part, of biological products or renewable domestic agricultural materials (including plant, animal, and marine materials) or forestry materials OR an intermediate feedstock.

 

Biodegradable 

A substance or object capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.

Bioplastics/Biopolymers 

Plastics that are either biobased, biodegradable, or feature both properties. 

 

BPA 

BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.



C

Carbon Emissions 

The release of carbon into the atmosphere. To talk about carbon emissions is simply to talk of greenhouse gas emissions; the main contributors to climate change.

 

Carbon Footprint 

The total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.

 

Carbon Neutral 

Making no net release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, especially through offsetting emissions by planting trees.

 

Chemical Recycling 

Chemical recycling is any process by which a polymer is chemically reduced to its original monomer form so that it can eventually be processed (re-polymerized) and remade into new plastic materials that go on to be new plastic products.

 

Circular Economy 

In a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. The concept recognises the importance of the economy needing to work effectively at all scales – for large and small businesses, for organisations and individuals, globally and locally. (ellenmacarthurfoundation.org)

 

Climate Change 

Climate change is a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates. These changes have a broad range of observed effects that are synonymous with the term. (climate.nasa.gov)

 

Closed loop Recycling

Closed-loop recycling is a more sustainable concept, which means that recycling of a material can be done indefinitely without degradation of properties. (www.e-education.psu.edu

 

CO2e 

Carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e means the number of metric tons of CO2 emissions with the same global warming potential as one metric ton of another greenhouse gas (epa.gov)

 

Compostable 

A product that is “compostable” is one that can be placed into a composition of decaying biodegradable materials, and eventually turns into a nutrient-rich material. (greengood.com)

 

Curbside Collection 

A service typically provided to residential communities, curbside collection consists of placing household waste in large containers near the curb of the home for pick-up by larger waste management vehicles. (earthtech.biz)



D

Decompose 

(with reference to a chemical compound) break down or cause to break down into component elements or simpler constituents.

 

Degradable 

A degradable substance can change into a more simple chemical structure, especially over time:

 

Direct Emissions 

Greenhouse gas emissions from a source that is owned or controlled by the reporting entity, company, organization, or country. 

 

Downcycling 

Downcycling is the recycling of waste where the recycled material is of lower quality and functionality than the original material.

 



E

 

End-Of-Life 

the end of the product lifecycle, indicating that the product is at the end of its useful life (from the vendor's point of view)

 

Energy Efficiency 

Energy efficiency simply means using less energy to perform the same task – that is, eliminating energy waste. Energy efficiency brings a variety of benefits: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing demand for energy imports, and lowering our costs on a household and economy-wide level. (eesi.org)



F

Food Waste 

Food waste is any food, and inedible parts of food, removed from the food supply chain to be recovered or disposed (including composted, crops ploughed in/not harvested, anaerobic digestion, bio-energy production, co-generation, incineration, disposal to sewer, landfill or discarded to sea)” (eu-fusions.org)

 

Fossil Fuels 

Fossil fuels are made from decomposing plants and animals. These fuels are found in the Earth’s crust and contain carbon and hydrogen, which can be burned for energy. Coal, oil, and natural gas are examples of fossil fuels. (nationalgeographic.org) Greenhouse gas emissions generated from the burning of fossil fuels are considered to be one of the principal causes of climate change. "



G

Greenhouse Gas Emissions 

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. This section provides information on emissions and removals of the main greenhouse gases to and from the atmosphere. 

 

Greenwashing 

The process of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claim about the environmental or ‘green’ credentials of a company or its products and practices. Greenwashing is used by companies to try and make them look more environmentally friendly than they actually are.



I

Incineration 

Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of organic substances contained in waste materials. Incineration and other high-temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas and heat.

 

Indirect Emissions 

Greenhouse gas emissions that are a consequence of the activities of the reporting entity but occur at sources owned or controlled by another entity.



L

Lifecycle 

A series of stages through which something passes during its lifetime. For a manufactured product, this cycle would include design, raw material extraction, material production, part production, assembly, transportation, the products actual use(s), and the end-of-life disposal method. 

 

Life Cycle Assessment/Analysis (LCA) 

A technique used to evaluate the environmental impact of a product through all stages of its lifecycle from design to final disposal. This allows a company to assess the environmental impact of all the materials used at every stage in its life (For example, the carbon emissions during the extraction stage of the raw materials). 

 

Light-Weighting 

A concept in the industry where the product is built to be as light as possible while still fulfilling its requirements. This is a method used to reduce its raw material content and carbon footprint. It uses less material and requires less fuel to transport, thus releasing fewer greenhouse gas emissions.



M

Marine Litter 

Marine litter is human-created waste that has been discharged into the coastal or marine environment. Specifically: “Marine debris” is defined to include any anthropogenic, manufactured, or processed solid material (regardless of size) discarded, disposed of, or abandoned in the environment, including all materials discarded into the sea, on the shore, or brought indirectly to the sea by rivers, sewage, storm water, waves, or winds.” (marinelittersolutions.com)

Microplastics 

Small pieces of plastic debris (less than 5mm long) that is found in the environment. Microplastics are derived from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes. They are the direct result of plastic product use or the breakdown of larger plastic debris.

 

MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) 

A Materials Recovery Facility is a specialized plant that receives, separates and prepares recyclable materials for marketing to end-user manufacturers. Generally, there are two different types: clean and dirty materials recovery facilities.

 

 

O

Ocean Plastic 

One of the most talked about categories of marine debris is ocean plastic. Plastic marine debris is any plastic material that inadvertently makes its way out to sea. (plasticpackagingfacts.org)



P 

Post-Industrial recycled (PIR) material 

This refers to material that has been processed initially but has failed to meet specifications or otherwise not sold as prime material, and is therefore sold to another party for reprocessing. This material is not post-consumer, as it was never sold to serve its intended use. The new product could then be marketed as having “x-amount” post-industrial recycled content in it. This does not include internal scrap, where scrap is reprocessed on-site. 

 

Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) material 

Once a material or product has served its intended use and been recovered from waste, it is considered post-consumer. The intended use may have been as transportation packaging or household usage. The material can then be recycled having finished its life as a consumer item. The new product could then be marketed as having “x-amount” post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in it.



R

Recyclable

If material is recyclable, it means that it is theoretically able to be recycled. This does not necessarily mean the infrastructure is in place everywhere for current recycling of a product made out of that material. The recyclability of a product is based on the materials it is made from, and whether those materials are recyclable. 

 

Recycled content 

The amount of recycled content can be defined as the proportion, by mass, of recycled material in a product or packaging. This can be recycled content from both post-consumer recycled material and industrial recycled material. 

 

Recycling 

Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community and the environment. (epa.gov)

 

Reduce 

To decrease in amount or size. In the plastic industry, “reducing” usually refers to the reduction of a product’s weight (Light-weighting), the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, or the reduction of the amount of waste.

 

Renewable energy 

Energy from a source that is not depleted when used. The main examples of renewable energy are wind and solar energy. However, depending on location, other methods of renewable energy, such as geothermal, are more widespread. 

 

Re-processor 

A company that recovers or recycles packaging waste discarded by businesses and households. 

 

Repurpose 

To adapt a product for a different use. This is usually associated with machinery and electronics. Repurposing occurs when a product is modified for a completely new task or for a very similar task (For example, a laptop being repurposed into a modified laptop). 

 

Reuse 

To use an object more than once (For example, refilling a soda bottle with water after drinking the soda is reuse of the bottle).

 

Right-Weighting 

Similar to Light-Weighting, Right-Weighting looks at designing the product to ensure it is the optimum (right) weight for product performance and reduced environmental impact, as the lightest product does not necessarily always have the smallest carbon footprint.



S

Scrap 

Any waste articles or discarded material left after the useful part of a product has been used. 

 

Shelf-life 

The length of time for which an item remains either usable, fit for consumption, or fit for sale, depending on the context.

 

Sustainability 

The integration of environmental health, social equity and economic vitality in order to create thriving, healthy, diverse and resilient communities for this generation and generations to come. The practice of sustainability recognizes how these issues are interconnected and requires a systems approach and an acknowledgement of complexity. (sustain.ucla.edu)

 

Sustainable Design 

The philosophy of designing objects and services to comply with the principles of sustainability. The intention is to eliminate negative environmental impact through design while still achieving the desired or requested goals of the brief. 

 



V

Virgin Plastic/Resins 

The resin produced directly from the petrochemical feedstock (natural gas or crude oil), which has never been used or processed before. This is typically more durable on a molecular level than recycled plastic/resins.



W

Waste 

Waste (or wastes) are unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance which is discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use.

 

Waste Hierarchy 

A set of priorities for the efficient use of resources. This runs from the most preferable, to avoid and reduce waste, through reuse, recycle, repurpose, recover, and treatment, to the least preferable which is complete disposal through incineration then even less preferable, landfill. 

 

Waste Management 

Waste management (or waste disposal) includes the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal. This includes the collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, together with monitoring and regulation of the waste management process and waste-related laws, technologies, economic mechanisms.



Z

Zero Waste 

The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.