Collecting flexible packaging is key for a circular economy because it sources the feedstock for future sustainable products. Minor adjustments to Europe’s existing waste systems can help send more of these soft plastics where they need to go.
100% collection of flexible packaging so that it is available for sorting and recycling is essential and part of the CEFLEX vision statement. And work to date suggests that collection systems have good potential to evolve – relatively quickly and easily compared to other end of life systems – to give far more access to raw materials for sorting and recycling.
A detailed position paper on Collection Systems for Flexible Packaging in a Circular Economy in February 2021 gave value chain alignment on this issue and is supported by on-going research, assessment and study from CEFLEX, including:
- A preferred schematic for separate collection
- Economic and environmental collection cost analysis in selected countries
- MARECIE (Mapping Recyclability in Europe) work documenting the recycling infrastructure and EPR systems in key European countries
- An international study measuring the make-up of plastic packaging in the post-consumer waste stream in collaboration with Resource Futures, EPR schemes and recyclers; a joint initiative with the other plastic packaging sectors
CEFLEX is also working to identify the gaps between claimed separate collection and flexible packaging actually sorted into bales for recycling in practice to help drive targeted change at the country level.
These elements help build a detailed picture of not just collection, but understanding how material flows through the system hereby allowing more targeted steps to increase circularity by harnessing the collaboration and engagement of industry, legislators, local authorities and consumers.