The updated ‘Designing for a Circular Economy’ guidelines (D4ACE) will be more robust because they invited independent stakeholders to jointly define what data was needed, says Dennis Bankmann, a scientific consultant driving an extensive test programme in flexible packaging.
Q: What’s your role in updating CEFLEX’s design guidelines?
I was brought into CEFLEX at the end of last year, principally to support the development and realization of the workstream on the D4ACE phase two testing program, which provides a crucial foundation for the future updates of the design guidelines.
As such, we want to ensure that it is scientifically sound, that the data is independently generated, and that we have full transparency on the data that’s being generated through the decisions and assessments taken.
Q: How do you plan to ensure the data underpinning the second phase of the D4ACE guidelines is scientifically sound?
We worked from the very beginning with external partners, like academics as well as leading testing laboratories in Europe, to ensure that we have a robust methodology to perform the testing that is also clear and detailed enough that it could be independently repeated at any point. We can then be sure that all the relevant data that will be needed for a proper assessment of suitability or recyclability is generated. As part of this process, we went through numerous reviews and improvements upon the methodologies, which are of course oriented and based upon existing methodologies that are out in the market.
Q: Why is it important to have external partners involved in phase two of the D4ACE guidelines?
Bringing stakeholders together from different backgrounds means we can jointly define what data will be generated and how it will be assessed. By combining all of these viewpoints, we’re able to ensure that we’re not missing any critical parameters that we should test for. At the same time, by including our partners from academia and the testing laboratories, we ensure that the testing represents best practices and has sufficient scientific rigor to be robust and reliable.
Q: What are you hoping will be the outcomes of the updated D4ACE guidelines?
What the outcomes of CEFLEX’s phase two programme intends to deliver is, of course, the data foundation for updating the guidelines, as well as the input to the design guideline updates themselves. We worked on, for example, making certain points clearer on ensuring reproducibility and repeatability on understanding, confidence in data and also on how the data will be documented and presented. The collaborative approach we’re taking helps us both in terms of an improved understanding as well as improved transparency and scientific rigor.
There will be two key deliverables. One is, of course, the updated design guideance, introducing additional materials that have been tested alongside clarifying other materials that were already in the guidelines, for example, with limits on composition.
In addition to providing a more robust and expanded design guidance to packaging developers and packaging specifiers, there will be also a second benefit – it will be possible for numerous other entities to look at the data, draw their own conclusions and, if they want to, incorporate the findings into their own work. We are aiming to support both the CEFLEX project, but also provide a crucial tool for other parties and stakeholders in the flexible packaging sector.
Dennis Bankmann, scientific consultant