'The Perfect Fit' (Thought Leadership Paper and accompanying animation) shows how flexible packaging offers the ‘perfect fit' solution to sustainability challenges today. It provides a simple and adaptable answer to portioning, preservation and demands for convenience.
By 2050, according to the European Commission and other respected scientific sources, if we follow our current path we will be extracting five times more resources than we do today. This is clearly not sustainable in a world where 9 billion people will depend on planet Earth for food, water and a place to live! To this end, Europe has embraced the “Resource Efficient Europe” initiative and is striving to move towards an increasingly circular economy.
Resource efficiency is about doing more with less, using resources sustainably and minimising our impact on the environment. Our biggest consumption impacts on the environment come from food, buildings, transport and from the many “products” that are part of our daily lives. These are the areas that need to change the most and flexible packaging already plays an important role helping to achieve this. The following areas give more details as to how flexible packaging does this.
Flexible Packaging’s very low pack to product ratio’s means that most often, even with no recycling, the flexible pack uses less material than an equivalent alternative packaging which can be/is highly recycled. A PTIS study done for FPA on coffee packaging showed that recycling a rigid plastic coffee jar (56g) at 50% or a metal coffee tin (98g) at 80%, still loses more packaging material than an equivalent 11g flexible laminated coffee pouch with zero recycling!
This does not mean that flexible packaging cannot be recycled! Flexible packaging can be and is recycled in several European countries although still not widely. However, new technologies to recycle even the most complex laminated material structures are continuously being developed and improved. We (FPE) actively track the progress of the most promising of these so we can encourage more countries to collect and recycle flexible packaging.
And even where recycling is not (yet) possible, the energy embodied in flexible packaging is ideally recovered by a clean burning Waste-To-Energy incineration facility to produce electricity and heat. Where the flexible packaging being incinerated contains an aluminium foil layer for increased barrier, only a part of this aluminium is oxidised into energy. The remaining aluminium melts and can be recovered from the incinerator “bottom ashes” at the exit of the incinerator using Eddy Current technology. (Click for more details)
Note: The primary purpose is to stimulate innovation and does not imply that FPE has trialled or endorses any of them as commercially proven systems.