A consortium of European companies including Unilever, PepsiCo and Nestlé have set up a project to increase flexible packaging recycling rates.
The Ceflex project was launched following concerns that the hard-to-recycle waste stream is not being properly dealt with. Flexible packaging is often made from laminated layers, which can be tricky to separate.
It is anticipated that all parts of the supply chain will working together on Ceflex, prompting better product design and increasing the necessary recycling infrastructure.
The new group follows a previous project, Fiace, which aimed to identify the value and opportunities of higher recycling rates. This included Reflex, a UK-based plastic packaging recycling project.
It is hoped that Ceflex will deliver results by 2020, with more flexible packaging collected and recycled across European countries. By 2025, Ceflex hopes to have developed infrastructure for the collection, sorting and reprocessing of post-consumer flexible packaging across Europe.
The consortium currently has 34 stakeholders including raw materials suppliers, packaging converters, brand owners, retailers and recyclers.
Project co-ordinator Graham Houlder said: “The earlier studies clearly identified technical solutions for successfully sorting and recycling more than 50% of flexible packaging, using state-of-the-art technologies.
“There will be recognition of the significant value this packaging format adds to the circular economy through measurable resource efficiency, waste prevention and recycling benefits.”
Gerald Rebitzer, director of sustainability at Amcor, said: “Flexible packaging excels in terms of material efficiency and overall lifecycle performance. This creates a cascade of environmental benefits throughout the entire value chain, and avoids waste at source.
”What is still in its infancy is an end-to-end solution for this packaging type. This project will help close that gap.”
The Reflex project was led by Axion Consulting. A report issued in February called for a further 75 local authorities to adopt kerbside collection of flexible packaging.
It also said MRFs needed to make ”necessary investments in new equipment required to extract flexible packaging”.