As industrial trials of a CEFLEX stakeholder developed Quality Recycling Process begin, we spoke to Gareth Callan, PepsiCo Sustainability Packaging Manager, R&D to find out more about what it means for brand owners, recyclability and ‘closing the loop’ on flexible packaging:

Your company is at the forefront of the circular economy for plastic packaging. How do you see your engagement with CEFLEX contributing to enabling breakthrough solutions to increase recyclability of flexible packaging?

PepsiCo’s sustainable packaging vision is to build a world where where plastic need never become waste. While we’re working on our efforts to reduce the amount of plastic packaging we use, increase the amount of plastic that gets recycled and use more recycled content and finally reinvent our packaging through looking at new materials and models; we recognise that no one company can build a circular economy on its own. Being an active member of industry bodies like the Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX) helps us to drive the system wide changes that are needed to advance the collection, sorting and recycling of our packaging. Through CEFLEX we’re able to share our expertise, participate in trials around new solutions and also engage in discussions with relevant authorities and others in the value chain to develop a circular approach that works for all.

Today the name of the game in recycling seems to become quality. CEFLEX is developing and starts to promote the Quality Recycling Process which will come at a cost. Do you see the value created with this new process help your flexible packaging goals?

We aim to make 100% of our packaging recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025 and so we’re committed to driving change across the system around the recycling of flexible packaging. Many believe flexible packaging to be a more complex recycling approach than for rigid with challenges presented around the perceived quality of the material for future recycling. However flexible packaging is currently collected, sorted and recycled into other products in the Netherlands and Germany and we need to learn from this approach for other European markets. We’re working to make sure that the EPR systems that we pay into across Europe are ‘fit for purpose’ to ensure waste is collected and effectively managed.

How is the Quality Recycling Process being developed by CEFLEX providing solutions to your packaging challenges today?

The Quality Recycling Process is enabling us to engage with multiple organisations to achieve the common goal of a circular future for flexible packaging. Through the process we hope to see scale sorting and re-processing of packaging materials which will help make recycling more economically feasible. In addition we are hoping to see advancement in the sorting process to ensure more packaging materials can be identified and redirected to a second use.
Gareth Callan, PepsiCo Sustainability Packaging Manager

Gareth Callan
PepsiCo Sustainability Packaging Manager, R&D