Collection of flexible packaging waste is central to achieving a circular economy. It is the first of CEFLEX’s 5-Step roadmap and subject of a value-chain consensus position paper showing the way ahead.
Flexible packaging needs to be successfully collected to ensure sorting, recycling and optimised quality in a circular economy. Assessments and modelling work within CELFEX examined the multiple approaches at local, regional or national levels and identified collection as one of the key identified issues to further develop a common understanding and position on.
To support CEFLEX’s vision and help the entire value chain move forward as one, this issue entered a facilitated alignment process. This includes information exchange, analysis, and interviews to support participative workshops which create considered positions to guide transformation to a circular economy.
In the period September 2020 to February 2021, over 300 CELFEX stakeholders participated in two webinars and a dedicated, value chain representative team of 25 to a central participatory workshop. Voices across the spectrum were able to discuss and debate the trade-offs and adjustments to local realities required to find a viable position for collection systems for flexible packaging in a circular economy in Europe.
The approved position paper guidance outlines the essential elements to capture flexible packaging resources.
It identifies that a significant increase is required and all flexible packaging is targeted for collection and sorting including on the go packaging, with separate collection used, where possible, at the kerbside. Given differences in population density, geography and system legacy, the necessary combination of viable solutions to achieve this may differ depending on the local context.
To maximize recycling quality of all materials, (flexible) plastic packaging should be collected as a separate stream or with other light packaging and not mixed with paper, board or glass.
Since a relevant proportion of flexible packaging may remain in the mixed solid waste stream, the additional sorting of flexible packaging from the mixed waste is necessary to maximize recovery and enable circularity.
CEFLEX and its stakeholders aim to assist a well functioning collection system for recycling flexible packaging, harnessing collaboration and engagement of industry, legislators, local authorities and consumers.
Consult the position
You can download the position paper here
Moving ahead towards 100% collection of flexible packaging
The newly agreed Collection Systems position paper process further contributed to, and is supported by, on-going research, assessment and study from CELFEX, including:
- A preferred schematic for collection
- Economic and environmental collection costs in selected countries in collaboration with SUEZ
- MARECIE (Mapping Recyclability in Europe) work studying recycling infrastructure and EPR schemes in key European countries in collaboration with Flexible Packaging Europe and Recyda.
You can download the schematic here.