How To Design Flexible Packaging For A Circular Economy

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We can all agree that waste prevention and the ability to reuse packaging are driving factors of creating a circular economy. However, there is an immediate urgency in the flexible packaging industry to stop waste products polluting the environment. The most effective way to do this right now is to increase the rate and efficiency at which we recycle waste packaging.


Flexible packaging represents half of the primary food packaging in Europe. It is a resource-efficient packaging choice that plays a key role in protecting the products it holds, preventing food waste and providing important packaging functionality. The wide-ranging benefits of flexible packaging, such as its low weight and minimal use of materials, lead to it being an increasingly popular packaging choice. However, the properties that make flexible packaging so desirable also contribute to its reputation of being notoriously difficult to collect, sort and recycle in an economically viable way.


The concept of a circular economy is recognised as a solution to the issues resulting from a “take-make-dispose” approach to consumption. For flexible packaging, the transition to circular starts with design. As well as meeting core design requirements such as product protection, brand messaging and regulatory requirements, companies must choose packaging that also meets the end of life design requirements. This means packaging that is easily collected and sorted, suitable for efficient and high-quality recycling and can be reused in new market applications.


CEFLEX, The Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging initiative, launched a comprehensive set of guidelines to help the flexible packaging value chain design recyclable consumer packaging solutions and accelerate a circular economy. The Designing for a Circular Economy (D4ACE) guidelines focus initially on polyolefin-based structures such as PE, PP and PE/PP mixes as these represent over 80% of consumer flexible packaging in the European market and the ability to sort and mechanically recycle these materials is already proven at industrial scale.


Below is a brief overview of what CEFLEX believe is the optimal guidelines for designing packaging solutions that will work with and contribute to the circular economy model.


Designing For A Circular Economy Infographic

Source: CEFLEX Report “Designing For a Circular Economy 2020”


Foxpak offers a wide range of recyclable packaging in line with CEFLEX’s guidance. Our recyclable range includes PE/PE and PP/PP laminates and mono-material structures available in matt and gloss finishes and with high barrier protection. We continue to encourage the use of recyclable plastics, helping our clients create a more sustainable supply chain in line with our vision of a circular economy.

If your brand is looking to invest in quality packaging, our team will guide you through the entire process, providing recommendations on increased sustainability, helping to improve efficiencies and adding expert and award-winning value to your end product.