The Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging consortium (CEFLEX) has proven that a newly developed Quality Recycling Process (QRP) is viable and enables high-value applications for recycled polymers from mechanical recycling.
‘We have reached a milestone through the power of value chain collaboration and expertise in waste management of flexible packaging,’ said Dana Mosora, workstream lead at CEFLEX. ‘Our trials have shown good yields and delivered recyclate quality suitable to replace virgin polymer grades in a number of demanding film and flexible packaging applications.’
The CEFLEX stakeholder team set out to deliver commercial quantities of Polyethylene (PE), and Polypropylene (PP) film quality recyclates for a range of non-food flexible packaging markets not currently open to household collected post-consumer flexible recyclates. With this milestone reached, the CEFLEX workstream is planning industrial trials to underpin the business case for investment in infrastructure, leveraging the QRP into a mainstream technology.
Gareth Callan, sustainability packaging manager, R&D at PepsiCo, commented: ‘A circular future for flexible packaging is only achievable through collaboration across industries, and that’s what the QRP is enabling. Sorting and reprocessing lie at the heart of the challenge. We need new technology that unlocks value at scale so that recycling of flexible packaging can become more economically feasible.’
Monica Battistella, product manager and sustainability advisor at Taghleef Industries, added: ‘Many applications are possible if we could just understand that recycled plastic does not need to look perfect, just like recycled paper and cardboard are not, and then we would see the higher value than it has in simply being good for the planet. I believe consumers have already understood this.’
‘It is not a matter if we can, it is more a matter of justifying the investment to do it,’ said Berry Bellert, sales engineer and development for plastics recycling at Dutch environmental company Atterro. ‘We have to realize that sorting flexibles is much more complex than sorting rigid packaging, but it can be done.’
CEFLEX has released a new ebooklet, which explores and profiles the process from several perspectives and gives insights from participants in the dedicated action team, which has rigorously tested its potential.