On the journey towards CEFLEX’s ‘Mission Circular’, our collective understanding and actions is normally measured in small increments; but recent months have seen just the opposite. A period crowned by the 24 April vote at the European Parliament validating the final provisional agreement on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), the most significant piece of legislation for the packaging sector in the last 30 years.

Fortunately, delivering transformation towards circular materials is CEFLEX’s very reason for existing. We welcome the focus and urgency on higher recycling rates, recycled content and increased quality – and have the insights and collaboration to help make them work.

Graham Houlder, CEFLEX Coordinator

“I am confident in CEFLEX’s understanding of the steps every part of the value chain needs to take to achieve PPWR and that these will accelerate our delivery of the circular economy.

Our ‘Mission Circular’ roadmap is highly aligned with PPWR targets and our actions increasingly practical, country-driven and engaging for the key stakeholders who will now need to implement this wealth of packaging and environmental legislation”

Graham Houlder, CEFLEX Coordinator

PPWR: a welcome boost to the circular economy

A recycling plant
CEFLEX considers legislation a key enabler of our ‘Mission Circular’ vision, and the PPWR is a transformational Europe-wide regulation towards these goals. Design for Recycling, Recycling at Scale and Recycled Content are three critical pillars shaping a circular economy for flexible packaging.

The PPWR is encouraging news for achieving our vision: required minimum design-for-recycling criteria from 2030 and design changes to be implemented by all will contribute to improving the business case for recycling flexible packaging for instance.  This provides the “level playing field’ business needs as some of these changes involve significant investment.

As observed by Commissioner Virginius Sinkevičius, no legislation is perfect of course; and some enabling measures to achieve industry ambitions perhaps did not get the attention they deserved in the scrum of interests and push to finalise it. We must not lose sight of these if we are to achieve recycling rates and recycling at scale obligations.

Mobilised, informed and innovating to achieve a new era of packaging targets

Between our nearly 200 stakeholders and, increasingly, fellow material and industrial sectors too, collaboration and innovation will be key to delivering on PPWR.

Recent highlights in progressing the circular economy for flexible packaging materials, with input from across the value chain, include our joined-up recycling strategy for flexible packaging, shared with our stakeholders in March 2024.

The strategy recommendations are shaped by our understanding of placed-on market data, new and existing end markets for the recycled materials, and modelling of recycling capacities and technologies. The work continues to be refined but includes highly relevant modelling and assessment of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) targets.

Along with our multi-country compositional analysis, extensive design testing programme and EPR ‘Criteria for Circularity’ work, these recommendations will be a pillar for us supporting the value chain and beyond with data-driven actions for achieving a circular economy for flexible packaging and PPWR targets.

Improving sustainability in packaging design has always been fundamental to CEFLEX, and our Designing for a Circular Economy (D4ACE) guidelines make a more relevant than ever contribution. We are in the final stages of our extensive testing programme to generate robust and independent data to both underpin and update these guidelines and the accompanying free-to-use ‘Design Check’ tool to issue a substantive update of our polyolefin guidance and supporting value-adding extensions relevant to designing paper and aluminium-foil flexibles.

Person selecting packaged goods from supermarket shelfCEFLEX is also actively engaged in the standardisation work of CEN TC261/SC4/WG10 on design for recycling and testing of recyclability of plastic packaging – leading development of the working draft of the Design for Recycling (DfR) and evaluation protocol for polyethelyne (PE) and polypropelyne (PP) flexibles.Finally, we are using our real-world data Chemical Recycling Project to understand the needs of chemical recycling pathways in terms of pack design, whilst being consistent with and building on the existing D4ACE mechanical recycling guidelines.

Delivering PPWR – collaboration is not optional

Putting all of this into action should not be a competing initiative; collaboration up and down the value chain is both essential and urgent. In this sense, PPWR legislation concentrates focus and minds on the same page which can be helpful.

We look forward to working with, and learning from, all of you making new legal ambitions a reality. Our shared desire to move forward now has a new platform in European law and we must be delivering clear calls to action on the fundamentals that matter.

If the CEFLEX approach and work resonates with your business, why not join us and help to accelerate the work needed to deliver circular packaging materials.

Graham Houlder, CEFLEX Coordinator

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