A core activity of the flexible packaging value chain to transform how packaging is designed is aligning and accelerating progress.
The Designing for a Circular Economy Guidelines (D4ACE) give clarity on redesigning to mono-materials and eliminate through innovation. This living resource continues to boost innovation and circularity. In particular, CEFLEX stakeholders across all parts of the value chain are actively innovating new solutions that allow the remaining ~40% of consumer household flexible packaging to be redesigned to mono without loss in functionality as highlighted in a recent flexible packaging report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF).
This includes a recently announced a major collaboration with UK Research and Innovation to urgently address essential gaps in knowledge and apply this in practice. An extensive testing programme draws on a network of leading European laboratories, universities and industry experts to generate robust, independent and credible data to update and improve our design guidance. Testing will also be done to better understand if and how the flexible packaging structures that are not currently widely sorted and mechanically recycled in existing polyethylene, polypropylene and mixed-polyolefin waste streams, can be technically sorted and recycled.
While plastic is predominant, the CEFLEX project is material-neutral, also encompassing paper and aluminum flexible packaging and works to improve the sortability and recyclability of all flexible packaging structures
CEFLEX collaborates with the 4evergreen alliance on its design guidelines for fiber-based packaging and CEFLEX design guidelines for aluminium-based flexible packaging structures are currently in development with Flexible Packaging Europe, the European Aluminium Foil Association and other key actors providing additional technical and operational experience. A working group is also examining how design guidance could be developed to optimise design for chemical recycling.
Additionally, CEFLEX and several of its stakeholders collaborate and align with organisations like the Consumer Goods Forum. Their multiple format ‘Golden Design Rules’ use CEFLEX design guidelines as a basis for flexibles – giving sound actions to innovate, eliminate and increase recycling rates.
To support and accelerate design changes to make flexible packaging circular, CEFLEX would welcome a legal requirement for packaging to meet design-for-recycling guidelines. Guidelines used for this purpose should meet minimum quality criteria set down in legislation and producers placing packaging on the market should be obliged to provide evidence of compliance upon request.