While many gains have been made in increasing the environmental benefits of flexible packaging—in particular carbon reduction and less transportation requirements—the recyclability capabilities of flexibility packaging is still an opportunity for growth.
Entering into the ring is the REFLEX project. Funded by Innovate UK and led by Manchester-based Axion Consulting, the REFLEX project aims involve the entire supply chain and make an economically sound model for flexible packaging recycling.
Major European companies are already participating, including polymer producers, packaging manufacturers, waste management firms, and recyclers.
“This project aims to remove the barriers preventing flexible packaging being recycled, thus enabling recyclers such as Axion and SITA to change the supply chain, create a circular economy in flexible packaging and divert it from landfill,” Axion Director Roger Morton tells PackagingEurope.com.
“Flexible plastic packaging represents a huge challenge to current recycling routes, because seemingly ‘simple’ packages, such as a biscuit wrapper, may incorporate several functional layers to deliver heat-sealable, oxygen barrier, metallised, printed and varnished packaging with high tear strength, good puncture resistance and minimum cost,” he added.
Project leaders are investigating how flexible packaging can be reprocessed into high-quality recycled pellets for manufacturing needs. The project’s goal is for 50% of flexible packaging to be diverted from the waste stream in 10 years