Differences between Postconsumer Recycled Material (PCR) and Postindustrial Recycled Material (PIR)

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Two types of recycled materials that are often confused are Post-Consumer Recycled Material (PCR) and Post-Industrial Recycled Material (PIR). In this blog, we will explore the key differences between these two recycled materials and we will also discuss the traceability of these materials in the supply chain. Sustainability has become a main topic among the industry and society in general. In the search to reduce our environmental impact, the incorporation of recycled materials in the manufacturing of products has become each time more common.

Postconsumer Recycled Material (PCR)

Postconsumer Recycled Material, abbreviated as PCR, is a type of recycled material which is obtained from products that have arrived at the end of their useful life, and which have been used by the average consumer. Common examples of PCR products involve plastic recycled bottles, recycled paper and recycled textiles. The distinctive characteristic of PCR is that it arrives mixed and usually, it is not possible to easily distinguish one from another.

Some of the advantages highlighted by using PCR involve the reduction of the number of residues in landfills and the decrease in the demand for virgin raw materials, which at the same time reduces the pressure on natural resources, which can limit their use in some applications.

Postindustrial Recycled Material (PIR)

Postindustrial Recycled Material, known as PIR, is derived from waste generated during the manufacturing process before the product arrives to the end consumer. This means that PIR materials are collected from waste generated in factories and other industrial facilities. PIR examples involve plastic production cuts, leftovers from moulding processes and material not used during production.

The PIR has unique advantages in quality terms and consistency in comparison with the PCR. Since it is collected before arriving at the end consumer, it generally is less polluted and is more homogeneous. This makes him especially adequate for applications where is required high quality and uniformity in the recycled material.

Key differences between PCR and PIR

Although Postconsumer Recycled Materials, PCR, as well as, Postindustrial Recycled Materials, PIR, are valuable recycling forms, there exist some differences between them which affect their use and applications:

Materials origin:

  • PCR: Come from products that have been used and wasted by consumers, such as plastic bottles or newspaper paper.
  • PIR: It is obtained from residues generated by industrial manufacturing processes, such as production cuts or not used materials during the production line.

Quality and pollution:

  • PCR: It tends to be more polluted due to the contact with consumers and recycled processes less controlled.
  • PIR: Generally it is higher quality and less polluted as a result of its origin in industrial environments more controlled.


  • PCR: It can be less uniform in quality and composition terms, a consequence of its diverse origin
  • PIR: They often are more homogeneous and consistent, which makes them ideal for specific applications that require uniformity.


  • PCR: It is often used in consumer products, such as containers, textiles and low-cost furniture.
  • PIR: It is preferred in applications where quality and consistency are critical, for instance, automobile components and electronic products.

Recycled materials contact tracking

Recycled materials contact tracking, PCR as well as PIR, is essential to guarantee the quality and authenticity of the end products that contain them. Contact tracking involves monitoring the supply chain from recycled material recollection to its incorporation into new products. Some key considerations involve:

  • Source monitoring: Identifying precisely the source of the recycled materials, whether consumer products or industrial processes, is fundamental to guarantee its quality and safety.
  • Recycle process: Registering and controlling the recycling process is important to guarantee materials are manipulated adequately and impurities are removed.
  • Quality evaluation: Perform quality testing and analysis throughout the recycling process to make sure that materials meet the required standards.
  • Documentation and labelling: Keeping adequate registers and labelling products which contain recycled materials to track its origin and composition.

Contact tracking is not only important to guarantee product quality, but also it can be a differentiating factor in the market since consumers and enterprises value more and more sustainable products and transparent in origin.

Which one should you use?

To sum up, Postconsumer Recycled Material (PCR) as well as Postindustrial Recycled Material (PIR), play a crucial role in promoting sustainability and residues reduction. However, they have significant differences in origin terms, quality and applications. The election between PCR and PIR ultimately depends on specific application necessities and adequate materials availability.

Recycled materials contact tracking is essential to guarantee the quality and authenticity of end products and to meet sustainability standards. Consumers and enterprises must be willing to invest in contact tracking and transparency in the supply chains to contribute effectively to environmental sustainability.

Finally, the use of recycled materials, either PCR or PIR, is a fundamental part of the transition towards a circular and sustainable economy. As environmental awareness continues to grow, these materials demand will continue to increase, which in turn will drive innovation and continuous improvement in recycling processes and contact tracking of recycled materials.

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