Sustainability FAQs

How do we know if we are doing enough to consider ourselves an “environmentally friendly” company?

We can always do more. The annual Environmental Award application offers a great starting point for companies taking their first footsteps toward a robust environmental stewardship program and a scalable structure for those members who have set up corporate environmental programs and are ready to move to the next level.

Click below to access the Environmental Award application.

Award Application

Can plastics really be considered an environmentally friendly or sustainable material?

YES! IAPD members primarily produce and distribute "Performance Plastics" not single use or throw away plastics. Performance plastics are designed to last for multi-use applications and in many cases generate a smaller carbon footprint than glass, steel and/or wood. Performance Plastics offer unique opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle.

What types of plastic polymers command a market/outlet for recyclability?
Plastic products range in desirability and marketability.

Here’s broad range:
  • High demand: polycarbonate, acrylic, styrene and ABS
  • Medium demand: polyolefin, PETG and nylons
  • Low demand (harder to recycle): PVC, acetyl and other high performance polymers.
Click here to learn more about the economic benefits of a proactive environmental stewardship program.
How can I better prepare my plastic scraps for recyclers?

Sort. Sort. Sort. Recyclers pay more for better-sorted scraps. Scraps must be free of foreign debris (wood, dirt, metal, etc.). Confirm other requirements with your recycler.

Click here to learn about how you can make your plastic scrap more valuable.

How do we find a quality recycler so that we can be assured proper disposal of materials collected from my facility?

Top-notch waste management companies file reports with the DEC (to obtain and maintain their license) that describe the full cycle of material they process. The reports are publicly available and the recycler should make them available to you. The certificate should be able to track your materials to their final destination.

Click here for tips on locating and picking a quality recycler.

What is the IAPD Environmental Committee?

The IAPD Board of Directors formed the Environmental Committee in April 2008 in response to increasing requests from its membership for guidance on improving their individual and collective environmental stewardship performance. Since then the committee has provided a proactive set of guidelines, instituted the GreenScene program and annual Environmental Award – both of which require strict compliance standards, developed green best practices program for the membership.

Today, the IAPD Environmental Committee actively promotes the environmental advantages of performance plastics to the public and assists IAPD members to develop sustainability practices across a variety of business sectors.

The guiding principles of our sustainability commitment are Conservation, Waste Minimization, Preservation, Cooperation and Education.

What is the difference between selling scrap and recycling materials?

Often, when we say “recycling,” we generally mean the resell of Post Industrial or Post Consumer plastic waste to scrap purchasers. There exists a large vibrant and profitable (for the buyer and seller) industry for this material. Click here for a list of companies that purchase scrap.

What does a scrap purchaser do with the material they buy?

Pelletize, grind, wash, compound, sort and package this material to be used as an economically viable alternative to virgin resin / pellets.

How do I set up a scrap purchasing program at my company?

For businesses regularly producing large amounts of scrap, developing a system to collect and sell it can become a steady source of income for your business, additionally it may save on fees and other taxes associated with disposing of unusable material. Plus, it’s the right thing to do for the environment.

  • Determine if you can sell your plastic: The most important question is whether you have plastic scrap that buyers are willing to take. Common types of sellable plastics include: PP, HDPE, LDPE, LLDPE, Nylon, Polycarbonate (PC), GPPS, Styrene (HIPS), PBT, ABS, PVC, PC/ABS
  • Do you meet the minimum amount of scrap to sell? Most prefer to purchase by the truckload, which can range from 10,000 - 40,000 lbs, but others have more liberal minimums. Contact the purchaser to confirm their minimums.
  • Preparing Your Plastic to Sell: Some plastics are more sought after (valuable) than others. Sort the material by type and separate light/dark pieces to make it easier to sell. If the scrap is dirty, the value may be affected, or sellers may refuse to accept them, so washing away dirt, oil, and other grime is a good idea before heading to your plastic retailer. The material always garners a higher price when it is sorted by type and is free from contaminants.
  • What tools do we need? Ask the purchaser if they supply bins or gaylords which will make the process of sorting easier. A scale is recommended as is a designated area for storing your scrap.
  • Transporting the material to the purchaser: Once you’ve met the minimum amount to sell, it can be loaded and transported to the plastic dealer of your choice. Many companies will arrange to pick up your plastic, if you have no means to transport it yourself. The buyer will calculate your amount, and you’ll be receiving your first payout for your plastic scraps.

Scrap Purchasers

Birch Plastics, Inc.
Contact: Rob Lang
Phone: 713-433-1898


Custom Polymers, Inc.
Contact: Richard Minges
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 704-405-3853
Denton Plastics
Contact: Mara
Phone: 503-257-9945
Norwich Plastic
Contact: Tribu Persaud 
Email:  [email protected]
Phone: 519-653-7373 x32
Recycling Concepts of West Michigan
Contact: Charlie Johnson
Phone: (616) 942-8888

Sustainability Glossary 


The following words show up often in the press and other journals. Here is a list of commonly used terms to assist IAPD member companies fulfill their commitment to achieve the highest levels of environmental stewardship. Let us know if you’ve heard or seen a term not included here.

Aerobic Degradation
Aerobic Degradation — the breakdown molecules into smaller chemical entities in the presence of oxygen.
Anaerobic Degradation
Anaerobic Degradation — the breakdown molecules into smaller chemical entities in the absence of oxygen.
Bio-Based Material
Bio-Based Material — a “biomaterial” is any material made from renewable plant matter (as opposed to non-renewable prehistoric plant material, fossil fuels), including agricultural crops, residues and trees. Sustainable biomaterials are those that are (1) sourced from sustainably grown and harvested cropland or forests, (2) manufactured without hazardous inputs and impacts, (3) healthy and safe for the environment during use and (4) designed to be reused at the end of their intended use such as via recycling or composting.
Biodegradable — materials that can be degraded by microorganisms such as bacteria, enzymes and fungi. 
Bioplastics — a type of biodegradable plastic derived from biological substances rather than from petroleum.
Bioreactor Landfill
Bioreactor Landfill — a special type of landfill that is constructed to allow air and liquid leachate circulation in order to enable anaerobic degradation while capturing and using methane released during the degradation.

Carbon Footprint
Carbon Footprint — a measure of the amount of greenhouse gases, measured in units of carbon dioxide and meant to be a useful metric for individuals and organizations as they conceptualize their personal (or organizational) impact on global warming.
Carbon Neutral
Carbon Neutral — or carbon neutrality, refers to a net zero carbon release, brought about by balancing the amount of carbon released with the amount sequestered or offset.
Carbon Offset
Carbon Offset — is the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions by offsetting emissions generated in one location with emissions reductions or displacements in another where it is technically and/or economically more feasible to achieve those reductions. 
Closed-Loop Recycling
Closed-Loop Recycling — the use of a recycled product in the manufacturing of a similar product or the remanufacturing of the same product.

Closed-Loop Supply Chain
Closed-Loop Supply Chain — an ideal in which a supply chain completely reuses, recycles or composts all wastes generated during production; at minimum, “closed-loop supply chain” indicates that the company that produces a product is also responsible for its disposal (Cradle-to-Cradle).
Compostable — a material or mix of materials that can be decomposed in a composting system within one composting cycle (ASTM Method 6400/6868). 
Cradle-to-Grave — from the time a material is generated until its ultimate disposal. 
Ecological Footprint
Ecological Footprint — the impact of a person or community on the environment, expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources.
Effluent Guidelines
Effluent Guidelines — national standards for wastewater discharged to surface waters and municipal sewage treatment plants. Effluent guidelines are issued based on industrial category.
Energy Recovery
Energy Recovery — obtaining energy from waste through a variety of processes (e.g., combustion).
Environmental Audit
Environmental Audit — an independent assessment of a party’s actions to minimize harm to the environment.
Environmental Impact
Environmental Impact — any change to the environment, good or bad, that results from a plan, policy, program or concrete project.
Environmental Management System (EMS)
Environmental Management System (EMS) — a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impact and increase its operating efficiency.
Environmentally Sound Technologies
Environmentally Sound Technologies — techniques and technologies capable of reducing environmental damage through processes and materials that generate fewer damaging substances, recover such substances from emissions prior to discharge, or use and recycle production residues.
Green Design
Green Design — of products, services, buildings or experiences that are sensitive to environmental issues and achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in terms of energy and materials use.
Green Product
Green Product — a product that has limited negative impact on the environment and society while delivering the same utility to the customer (quality, performance, features, fabrication, application, durability) at the same or slightly higher price as a standard product.
Greenhouse Effect
Greenhouse Effect — the trapping of the sun's warmth in a planet's lower atmosphere due to the greater transparency of the atmosphere to visible radiation from the sun than to infrared radiation emitted from the planet's surface.
Greenwashing — the process by which a company publicly and misleadingly declares itself to be environmentally friendly but internally participates in unfriendly environmental or social practices.
Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP)
Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) — toxic air pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental effects.
Hazardous Waste
Hazardous Waste — waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or environment. 
Incineration — or “combustion” is a controlled burning process to reduce waste volume and/or convert water into steam to fuel heating systems or generate electricity.
Lean Manufacturing (Lean)
Lean Manufacturing (Lean) — an overall methodology that seeks to minimize the resources required for production by eliminating waste (non-value added activities) that inflate costs, lead times and inventory requirements by emphasizing the use of preventive maintenance, quality improvement programs, pull systems and flexible work forces and production facilities.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) — a technique for assessing the environmental impacts of a product by examining all the material, resources, water and energy inputs and outputs at each life cycle stage.
Non-Renewable Resource
Non-Renewable Resource — a natural resource that is unable to be regenerated or renewed fully and without loss of quality once it is used, e.g., fossil fuels or minerals.
Open-Loop Recycling
Open-Loop Recycling — a recycling process in which materials from old products are made into new products in a manner that changes the inherent properties of the materials, often via a degradation in quality.
Performance Plastics
Performance Plastics  multi-use or durable plastics. A category of plastic that, relative to other materials (such as wood, glass or metal) has a longer useful life, enhanced chemical and physical properties and is more economically and environmentally friendly. 
Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL)
Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) — Federal limits for workplace exposure to contaminants per OSHA.
Post-Consumer Materials/Waste
Post-Consumer Materials/Waste — materials and waste routinely discarded, either in a waste receptacle or a dump, or by littering, incinerating, pouring down the drain, or washing into the gutter. 
Post-Consumer Recycling 
Post-Consumer Recycling — use of materials generated from residential and consumer waste for new or similar purposes; e.g., converting wastepaper from offices into corrugated boxes or newsprint.
Pollution Prevention (P2)
Pollution Prevention (P2) — the reduction or elimination of waste at the source by modifying production processes, promoting the use of non-toxic or less-toxic substances, implementing conservation techniques and re-using materials rather than putting them into the waste stream.
Recycled Content
Recycled Content — the percentage of recycled materials in a product including products and packages containing reused, reconditioned, remanufactured materials and recycled raw material. 
Renewable Resources
Renewable Resource — a natural resource that is replenished by natural processes at a rate comparable or faster than its rate of consumption by humans or other users. 
Stakeholder — an individual or group affected by the activities of a company or organization.
Sustainability and/or Sustainable Devlopment
Sustainability and/or Sustainable Development — meeting the social, economic and environmental needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainable Design
Sustainable Design — a process of product, service or organizational design that complies with the principles of social, economic and environmental sustainability.
Waste Management
Waste Management — the processes involved in dealing with the waste of humans and organisms, including minimization, handling, processing, storage, recycling, transport, and final disposal.
Waste-to-Energy — a recovery process in which waste is incinerated or otherwise turned into steam or electricity and used to generate heat, light or power through the process of combustion.
Waste-to-Profit — the process of using one company’s waste as the raw material for another company, thereby increasing profits and decreasing waste; also referred to as byproduct synergy.
Zero Waste
Zero Waste — a production system that eliminates the volume and toxicity of waste and materials by conserving or recovering all resources
Didn't find a term you were looking for? Click here to let us know.