What is the Difference Between Pre- and Post-Consumer Waste?

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paper scraps for recycling

The term “sustainable” has become more than just a buzzword, it’s a life choice. Over the years, consumers have sparked an interest in adopting more sustainable habits, one of those being purchasing and using sustainable products. Here at WCP, we are proud to be able to provide our customers with numerous products made from recycled materials and help them achieve their environmental goals. Recycled materials can be classified as either pre-consumer or post-consumer waste. In this post, we will explain and help you understand the differences between products made from materials in these two recycled categories.

What is Pre-Consumer Waste?

Pre-consumer, also known as post-industrial waste, consists of materials discarded by businesses, manufacturers, or facilities before it reaches the consumer. Examples are trimmings, leftovers, scraps of metals, paper, food, and other virgin materials. Many businesses try to limit the amount of pre-consumer waste they produce to improve efficiency, but it is a natural part of the production cycle.

What is Post-Consumer Waste?

Products made from post-consumer waste, which can also be referred to as post-consumer recycled waste (PCR), are manufactured using materials that have been previously used and then discarded by consumers. For example, most homes and businesses have dedicated bins to sort and recycle corrugated, paper, and plastics properly. These materials are collected through recycling programs and are processed to create new products. This approach helps reduce the demand for raw materials, limits the total amount of waste going into landfills, and minimizes the energy and resources required for production.

Examples of post-consumer products would be our own Supplyways Bath Tissue which is made from 65% post-consumer material and the Revolution bag low-density can liners. These garbage bags are primarily made from recycled agricultural film that gets collected from farms and then recycled again to be remade into can liners to give them another life. We also carry a range of paper made from post-consumer materials, one of those being this sheet of Neenah Classic Crest (NCCR1BW103), which is made from 100% post-consumer waste.

Let WCP Help You Achieve Your Environmental Goals

We offer a range of products made from recycled materials from food service containers, utensils, padded mailers, and more. We can also assist you with other sustainable-related topics, such as waste stream management or understanding the differences between the plastic recycling codes

Our Account Managers can help you find the right sustainable solution for you and your business. Contact our team online or give us a call today at (877) 398-3030.


Sources: BioPak, Stop Waste, and Mass.gov