The DIN SPEC 91446 is the classification of recycled plastics based on Data Quality Levels for use and (digital) trading.
It was initiated by cirplus and DIN (German Institute for Standardization) in August 2020 and since then IKK (Institut für Kunststoff- und Kreislauftechnik) is leading the consortium composed by 16 members of the recycled plastics value chain. Included in the consortium are plastic processors such as Greiner and Polifilm and plastic recyclers such as Der Grüne Punkt.
The classification system is intended to support parties involved in the trading of recycled plastics and plastic waste feedstock by bringing transparency about the materials being traded. Hence, the DIN SPEC 91446 is making the (digital) procurement process easier, cheaper and more reliable through introducing data quality standards.
The DIN SPEC 91446 draft is already out and ready for your review! If you belong to the plastics and plastics recycling industry, you can download the draft and comment on how you think it could be better!
What exactly is the DIN SPEC 91446?
The DIN-SPEC 91446 defines a system for the classification of recycled plastics based on the quantity of data available for the material. It provides guidelines for the labeling of the recyclate type and content, and also gives guidance for the characterization of plastic waste as feedstock material for recycling. The goal is to set standards for:
Definitions (such as PIR and PCR)
Quality grades based on data depth ("Data Quality Levels" - DQLs)
Labels regarding type of recycling and recycled content share
Processes of handling plastic waste (collecting, testing, processing)
The so-called DQLs ("Data Quality Levels") are the heart of DIN SPEC 91446. They enable the use of labels for quick assessment, making the commercialization and sample testing of recyclates and plastic waste easier and more transparent. The DQLs classify recycled plastics based on the available data (information and properties) known about the material. The more information provided, the higher the DQL.
Why is the DIN SPEC 91446 such a big deal?
Because it is the key to unlocking the demand for recycled plastic in high quality applications.
Every year more than 15 million tons of plastic waste end up in the oceans. With the consistent increase of plastics consumption observed in recent years, the amount of mismanaged plastic waste is projected to reach 239 million tons by 2040. Considering this pollution problem and how harmful it is to life on our planet, ambitious targets and regulations were set by competent authorities in order to incentivise the use of recycled plastics. But the market is not yet ready for such a steep growth in demand.
The reason that is keeping recyclates from being used more is the price. Today, high-quality recyclates are generally more expensive than virgin material.The two reasons for this price differential are the lack of recognized standards for recyclates and the lack of digitization in the industry. These factors make it hard to provide transparency about the material and create a barrier for companies that are willing to use recyclates in their products, but are lacking information about the materials they want to buy.
Better classification of recyclates based on data depth will enable recyclates to be commercialized with ease and consistency, increasing its demand, and consequently allowing plastic waste to be recycled on scale, closing the loop for circular plastics. The DIN SPEC 91446 and its Data Quality Levels will provide the market with a methodology for identification and labeling that minimizes the obstacles for the industrial usage of recyclates while establishing guidelines for consistent plastic waste specifications.
The increase in the acceptance of recyclates combined with the dissemination power of digital solutions such as platforms, blockchains and machine learning will enable recyclates to compete with virgin plastic or even to become the go-to commodity for plastic applications wherever it is feasible.
How does the recycled plastics industry benefit from DIN SPEC 91446?
Buyers' expectations regarding recyclates often differ from those of the suppliers -- thus frequently causing misunderstandings. With the DIN SPEC 91446 we bridge the communication gap between the various stakeholders of the circular plastics value chain, and make sure they speak the same language when it comes to quality requirements.
With this new standard for the data quality of recyclates and waste feedstock the commercialisation of upcycled material at scale will be possible for the first time. Such higher quality materials are regulated more strictly, consequently requiring a higher quality and quantity of information on the buyer side than for downcycled material. These requirements on the data quality of recyclates and plastic waste feedstock can now finally be met by applying the DIN SPEC 91446.
How will the DIN SPEC 91446 be implemented on cirplus - the global marketplace for circular plastics?
As the initiators of DIN SPEC 91446 we have prepared our global marketplace for circular plastics to go all in on increasing the transparency and data quality of listings on the cirplus platform. This is how the new standard for the data quality of plastic waste feedstock and recyclates will be integrated on cirplus:
List your material: Automatically specify your material according to the new standard with the first DIN 91446-ready offer creation form.
Product data sheets: Offer your customers on cirplus automatically created DIN SPEC 91446-compliant product data sheets.
Integrated lab testing: Get your material DIN SPEC 91446-certified seamlessly with our network of trusted partner testing labs.
Unique selling point: Differentiate your offers from your competitors by being among the first suppliers to offer DIN SPEC 91446-compliant material effortlessly on cirplus.
When will the DIN SPEC 91446 be ready to use?
The DIN SPEC 91446 will be published on October 30, 2021. Until then, all the involved parties are working hard on the process of development, which includes: codification of the standards, public consultation of the DIN SPEC 91446 Draft, review of the feedback received, DIN approval and publication. The process was designed to receive as much feedback from the industry as possible, so that the developers can adapt it to the market needs.
Initial composition of the scope, terms and definitions of the standards and labels. The outcome is the finished DIN SPEC 91446 draft.
At this stage, the standards will be open for commentary from the participants of the plastics and recycled plastic industry. The outcome is valuable feedback from the future users of the standards.
After the Public Consultation period the consortium will take all comments on the draft into consideration and adjust it accordingly.
DIN will then revise the outcome of the adjusted document and the final iterations will be done between them and the developers.
The DIN spec 91446 will be officially published on October 30, 2021 and ready to be used by plastic converters, recyclers and waste owners!
Outlook: From Germany into the world
Yes, DIN-SPEC is a German standard. But we don't stop here! The goal of the DIN-SPEC 91446 is to transfer it into European and international norms and standards.
Convenors & Consortium
Prof. Hans-Josef Endres (IKK)
Dr. Madina Shamsuyeva (IKK)
Christian Schiller (cirplus GmbH)