New glossary on reuse brings clarity to the jungle of terms in the Circular Economy

Press release /

What is the difference between reuse and recycling? How should the German term Mehrweg be used and how does it differ from Einweg? For which evaluation are reuse rates more meaningful than recycling rates? Answers to these questions, raised not least by the PPWR (Packaging & Packaging Waste Regulation of the EU), and brief explanations of the terms used in the recycling of packaging are provided in the new "Mehrweg-Glossar/Glossary on Reuse", published in German and English. The Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML produced this on behalf of the Stiftung Initiative Mehrweg (Reusable Packaging Initiative Foundation) to bring clarity to the often blurred terminology surrounding reuse and the circular economy.

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The glossary on reuse is available in German/English and freely accessible.

The bilingual glossary of around 40 pages aims to clarify descriptions and comparisons in the field of reusable and recyclable packaging systems. The work is intended to serve as a tool to facilitate communication between science, politics, companies and consumers. Terms such as recycling, reutilization, disposable, reusable or recycling rates are omnipresent, but not always clearly defined. For example, reuse and recycling are sometimes seen as competing processes, sometimes recycling acts as a generic term, sometimes reuse. "In this glossary, we consider reuse as non-destructive recycling, i.e. the object and its form are preserved, while recycling describes a destructive treatment process that is primarily concerned with material preservation," says Jürgen Bertling from Fraunhofer UMSICHT and co-author of the glossary, providing an insight.

The glossary is divided into four chapters: First, the team of authors explains relevant aspects for the comparison of packaging systems, the next chapter contains overview diagrams of packaging types depending on their recyclability and a schematic representation of linked cycles. The definitions of all relevant terms, such as reuse and further use, as well as a differentiation and classification of the terms disposable and reusable used in German can be found in the third chapter. The glossary concludes with a chapter on formulas and formula symbols for calculations, which are intended to contribute to a generally understandable notation in scientific and technical analyses.

The glossary is freely accessible and can be downloaded from this link.