CEFLEX recommends use of recyclable mono-materials for flexible packaging

As part of its ‘Issue Alignment’ process, CEFLEX stakeholders are working with Swiss University ETH to collect and assess topics which are essential to realising a circular economy for flexible packaging. These issues are being tackled individually to create considered and aligned positions on each topic. The result has been its first Position Paper on ways to achieve this goal.

The first CEFLEX Position Paper, entitled ‘Accelerating the circular economy for flexible packaging – a recommendation for recyclable mono-materials’ is now being made available.

CEFLEX Position Statement
Taking into account the current best-practice technologies established in Europe, CEFLEX strongly recommends the use of flexible packaging made from recyclable mono-materials. The paper clearly states the need to evaluate functional requirements of packaging and, when possible, to redesign existing flexible packaging to a recyclable mono-material.

This recommendation chimes with the recently released CEFLEX ‘Designing for a Circular Economy’ guidelines, which gives practical advice and clarity on how to deliver significant environmental improvements without compromising functionality.

Preference for plastic recycling streams from post-consumer polyefin-based flexible packaging

Graphic source: CEFLEX ‘Designing for a Circular Economy’ guidelines

Flexible packaging, as with other sectors, requires a major change in collaboration as well as innovation and investment to achieve a circular economy. Only by working together can flexible packaging collectively achieve the ambitious sustainability goals, recyclability targets and prevent waste and pollution along the value chain, according to the consortium.

“Ensuring packaging is designed to be recycled into new, valuable materials, or flows back into the economy, is a cornerstone condition for creating a circular economy,” explained CEFLEX project coordinator Graham Houlder. “More than 80% of flexible packaging is mono-material Polyethylene (PE) or Polypropylene (PP) and we can grow this further; which will improve conditions for investment in infrastructure and help create sustainable end markets for the recycled materials.”

“Quality mono-material inputs are key criteria for building a circular economy for flexible packaging,” says Arne Jost of mtm plastics, member of the Borealis Group. “Implementing the CEFLEX ‘Designing for a Circular Economy’ guidelines and this position paper work to increase the mono-material content in a bale of post-consumer film. This will be a welcome improvement for all recyclers and help accelerate end markets” he added.

Other alignment topics Identified include collection models and recyclate quality. The next priority for CEFLEX stakeholders is to examine collection models for flexible packaging in a circular economy and produce another position paper, after analysis of separate collection and post sorting of residual waste and a virtual workshop 15-16 September 2020.