How To Design Flexible Packaging For A Circular Economy

Blog Post Feature Image - Designing for a circular economy

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 (1)

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.

 

 

OPRL labelling rules extended to include PP flexible packaging

With recent announcements of major industry initiatives seeking to increase the rate of recycling of plastic packaging, OPRL has amended its recycling labelling rules to include PP films. This move will bring polypropylene (PP) flexible packaging in line with PE films from 1st Jan 2022, broadening the range of flexible packaging that consumers can recycle.

 

On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) Logo

Based on retailer and brand plans to deliver on commitments under The UK Plastics Pact, OPRL is confident that collections will be available to more than 75% of the UK population for PP film by January 2022. With 9 out of 10 consumers relying on OPRL to inform them on whether they can recycle items, this development should significantly increase the rate at which soft plastics are being recycled at the front of store. PP material recycled in-store will be collected and processed into new packaging and products.

 

OPRL are continuing to establish the availability of processing capacity and functioning markets for metallised foil crisp, snack and chocolate wrappers. Although they are covered by some in-store recycling collection networks, OPRL hope these too could be labelled as ‘recyclable’ in the near future.

OPRLs new recycling rules will see PP films with less than 5% PE or EVOH labelled with a Special Films label from next January, as PE films.

OPRL recycling labelsJane Bevis, Chair of OPRL Ltd, said “We know there’s a huge appetite among consumers to recycle more of this lightweight packaging, with tremendous responses to in-store trials by retailers. So it’s exciting that the long-established major supermarkets’ network of front-of-store collections for PE films is being extended and strengthened and will now encompass a broader range of bags and wrapping. That means from January consumers will be able to take many more types of packaging for recycling at their local supermarket.”

 

Margaret Bates, Executive Director of OPRL Ltd, went on to explain. “Mono-polymer polypropylene without heavy coatings or metallisation is an important first step in extending our advice to consumers. It will bring pasta, biscuit and other everyday packaging in line with bread, veg and fruit, and loo roll bags. We’re very conscious that our labels are trusted by consumers because they constitute a ‘promise’. 95% of people are confident they understand our ‘Recycle’ label. Therefore if they put packaging bearing it in the right bin, then it will be recycled. We respect and value that trust, built up over 12 years of labelling packaging. So we’re committed to verifying the necessary infrastructure is in place to deliver on that promise. And to make sure markets exist to make this an economically viable and sustainable process.”

 

PP Recyclable Pouch

Source: OPRL’s news release “OPRL Labelling Rules Change to Support Flexibles Recycling”

 

Foxpak offers a wide range of recyclable packaging in line with OPRL guidance. Our recyclable range includes PE/PE and PP/PP 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.