Sorting guidelines for plastic packaging have changed – PVC packaging can also be recycled

“The change is based on legislation, reduced volumes of PVC packaging in use and improved sorting technologies at recycling facilities,” explains Mika Surakka, CEO of Finnish Plastics Recycling Ltd.

By Jouko Vuorela

Photo Rinki

How have the guidelines changed?

Plastic packaging made of PVC can now also be taken to containers at residential buildings or Rinki eco take-back points.

What is the change in the guidelines based on?

The old Waste Act included an exemption that forbade the recycling of packaging made of certain types of plastic, including PVC, because they were thought to interfere with the recycling of other types of plastic packaging. The new Waste Act does not allow exemptions.

Sorting technologies used at recycling facilities have improved.

Another reason for the change is that the volume of PVC packaging used in Finland has significantly decreased. Sorting technologies used at recycling facilities have also improved: PVC can be better identified and separated from recyclable plastic packaging materials.

How is PVC packaging identified?

Its symbol is a three arrow triangle recycling symbol with 03 marked inside, and the packaging also often reads PVC. However, identification is no longer needed as all types of plastic packaging can be placed in the same recycling container.

What kind of packaging uses PVC?

It is most commonly used in blister packs for medicines and occasionally in thermoformed packaging for toys, tools and other consumer products, for example.

When will the new sorting guidelines come into force?

They already came into force on 1 June 2022. The aim is to have stickers about the new guidelines at all Rinki eco take-back points by the end of June. It is also hoped that only plastic packaging will be placed in the collection containers, no other materials such as biowaste, nappies or construction waste. Up to 20 percent of the materials put into plastic packaging collection containers are not plastic, which results in millions of euros of unnecessary additional costs.


Five tips for recycling plastic packaging

  • Only put plastic packaging into the plastic collection container. Other plastic objects, such as toys, are classed as mixed waste.
  • If necessary, rinse the plastic packaging with cold water or wipe it with a paper towel. Don’t worry about stains.
  • If the largest proportion of the packaging is plastic, it should be placed in the plastic packaging collection.
  • Remove detachable parts of the plastic packaging, such as caps, and recycle them separately.
  • Don’t stack plastic packaging together.