As industrial trials of a CEFLEX stakeholder developed Quality Recycling Process begin, we spoke to Jesús Maza Lisa, Packaging Materials Development Manager – Flexibles at Danone 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?

All plastic packaging has an impact on resources, climate change, waste, biodiversity or water use but we also need it to deliver Danone’s mission: Bring Health Through Food To As Many People As Possible.

Nevertheless, Danone is working to support a systemic shift from a linear to a circular economy for packaging. Our objective is to eliminate the concept of waste by keeping materials within the economy and out of nature. One of our commitments is that all our packaging must be designed for circularity by 2025. This means that all our packaging will be 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable. Alternatives will be found to plastic or single-use in all major markets. Problematic and unnecessary plastic packaging will be eliminated.

Supporting initiatives like CEFLEX help us to make it happen, helping us put in place an effective waste management system and ensuring our packaging is recycled and never becomes a waste. We believe that this needs to be a collaborative mission joining forces and expertise. CEFLEX is a good example of such a cross value chain collaboration. Indeed, Danone is already actively working to make all flexibles recyclable following CEFLEX guidelines.

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?

High quality of recyclate is key to stimulating demand – a key success factor of boosting and creating a recycling system around flexible packaging. Nevertheless, quality and cost shouldn’t be decoupled from each other, especially the a new post-COVID situation we face today. That’s why all the actors from the whole value chain have a word to say to focus on quality. If, all together, we manage to have a quality recycling process, new markets will be developed, more and more brand owners will be interested in using quality recycled polymers and more recyclers will be interested in recycling flexibles. Quality brings value, as we can see in the rPET market, for instance.

Again, as a brand owner, Danone believe this is a collaborative mission and the circularity of our packaging is key. And of course, we do see the value created with this new process.

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

Transitioning to a circular economy means seeking to no longer use packaging from finite resources. This helps preserve natural resources and keep existing materials in use and out of nature. To reduce the need for newly created material, we are working to increase recycled content. We are also developing renewable materials that further decouple packaging from natural resource use.

We intend to drastically expand the amount of recycled and bio-plastic used in our packaging. We have already launched 100% recycled PET bottles in all our major water markets. By 2025, we will reach 50% of recycled material on average in our plastic packaging.

A Quality Recycling Process by CEFLEX opens a solution to our flexibles packaging challenges bringing back to the market high quality recycled polyolefins which will for sure help us to reach our commitments.

Jesús MAZA LISA Packaging Materials Development Manager – Flexibles, Danone

Packaging Materials Development Manager – Flexibles, Danone