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/ Flexible Packaging in Europe

The European strategic high level initiatives

EMF New Plastics Economy Initiative

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

  • New Plastics Economy Initiative* launch in 2015
  • Catalyzing Action Plan launch in January 2017

* EMF initiative has a global scope.

European Commission

European Commission

  • Circular Economy Package adoption and publication of the Action Plan (2016)
  • European Commission review of the EU Plastics Strategy (2017)
Polyolefins Circular Economy Platform

Polyolefins Circular Economy Platform

  • Polyolefins Circular Economy Platform launched at K2016
  • A collaborative platform of PlasticsEurope, Plastics Recyclers Europe and European Packaging Converters
the perception and reality of flexible packaging
the perception and reality of flexible packaging

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

Facts & Figures

4 million tons of flexible food packaging, and growing

Graph representing the flexible food packaging market breakdown

The European Food Flexible Packaging Market, 2014*

*AMI 2014 – Based on AMI definition of flexible packaging

80% of plastic flexible packaging potentially “technically ready for recycling” with existing plastic streams(1)

graph representing plastics demand

Plastic flexible packaging vs. total EU plastic consumption**

(1) In some countries, a proportion of the remaining 20% is also recycled in specific streams
** Based on NL and UK post-consumer waste analysis

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 widely collected for recycling in all countries

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 will work to find solutions in the above areas to make flexible packaging even more relevant to the circular economy.