The European strategic high level initiatives

The perception of flexible packaging

Debunking some myths

The Perception The Reality
Flexible packaging is unnecessary waste Before it is waste, flexible packaging plays an essential role as it protects food throughout the supply chain and enables a proper and safe delivery to the end-consumer
Flexible Packaging cannot be recycled Flexible packaging is increasingly recycled, especially in countries where it is collected
Flexible packaging is not relevant in a circular economy as it is assumed that it is not recyclable Flexible packaging adds value in a circular economy through very efficient use of materials and energy resources. If on top of that it is collected and recycled, this increases its resource efficiency even further
The environmental impact of the packaged food is mostly due to the packaging The environmental impact of flexible packaging is typically 5 to 10 times less than the food it protects*
Flexible packaging is a cause of land and marine litter When flexible packaging is not collected, there is a risk that it might leak into nature. Collection of flexible packaging waste can significantly reduce the risk of it becoming land and marine litter
Flexible packaging is a waste of resources With flexible packaging, customized barrier protection and appropriate portioning reduces the risk of food waste thus saving many resources

* See www.flexpack-europe.org/sustainability-new.html

The Perception

Flexible packaging is unnecessary waste

Flexible Packaging cannot be recycled

Flexible packaging is not relevant in a circular economy as it is assumed that it is not recyclable

The environmental impact of the packaged food is mostly due to the packaging

Flexible packaging is a cause of land and marine litter

Flexible packaging is a waste of resource

The Reality

Before it is waste, flexible packaging plays an essential role as it protects food throughout the supply chain and enables a proper and safe delivery to the end-consumer

Flexible packaging is increasingly recycled, especially in countries where it is collected

Flexible packaging adds value in a circular economy through very efficient use of materials and energy resources. If on top of that it is collected and recycled, this increases its resource efficiency even further

The environmental impact of flexible packaging is typically 5 to 10 times less than the food it protects *

When flexible packaging is not collected, there is a risk that it might leak into nature. Collection of flexible packaging waste can significantly reduce the risk of it becoming land and marine litter

With flexible packaging, customized barrier protection and appropriate portioning reduces the risk of food waste thus saving many resources

* See www.flexpack-europe.org/sustainability-new.html

CEFLEX scope based on EU market (2019 data)

Diagram representing CEFLEX market scope

End of Life challenges

While highly resource efficient, flexible packaging is generally showing a lower recycling performance than other packaging.

waste collection

Collection

Flexible plastic is not yet widely collected for recycling in all countries and an essential first step to achieving a circular economy.
multi-layered flexible packaging material

Technical

The possible combination of different layers /materials makes flexible packaging very resource efficient but can also make it more challenging to recycle
recycling infrastructure

Infrastructure

The light weight of flexible packaging means a lot more packs need to be collected to meet weight based recycling targets.

It is easier and costs less to meet the targets with heavier packaging formats.

CEFLEX is working to deliver solutions in the above areas to make flexible packaging even more relevant to the circular economy.