A collaboration of European companies, associations, and organisations representing the flexibles value chain have agreed a common position on the essentials for collecting flexible packaging waste in a circular economy.

This position statement is part of an ongoing alignment on key issues being undertaken by the Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CELFEX) initiative. The process seeks to combine detailed research, consultation, and debate to reach a common position.

From September 2020 to February 2021 more than 300 stakeholders participated in two dedicated webinars; interviews; and a value chain representative, 25-person, two-day workshop, to agree the final statement.

These efforts are part of delivering on CEFLEX’s five-step roadmap and are intended to help accelerate a circular economy for flexible packaging.

The approved position statement outlines what CEFLEX sees as the essential elements in terms of capturing flexible packaging resources:

  • All flexible packaging must be targeted for collection and sorting, including on-the-go packaging. Especially in those few countries where it is not yet collected like the UK
  • Flexible plastic packaging should be collected as a separate stream or with other light packaging and not mixed with paper, board, or glass to maximise recycling quality
  • Additional sorting of flexible packaging from mixed waste is likely necessary to access all flexible packaging materials and enable circularity
  • CEFLEX and its stakeholders aim to work with the national authorities and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes to develop effective collection systems that allow for these materials to be sorted and sent for recycling.

The agreed position statement process contributes to, and supports, ongoing research, assessment, and study from CELFEX. These include economic and environmental collection costs in selected countries, in collaboration with SUEZ and the MARECIE Mapping Recyclability in Europe work, studying recycling infrastructure and EPR schemes, in collaboration with Flexible Packaging Europe and Recyda.