Against a blue background, a pair of hands emerge from the left-hand side of the image. They are holding a pile of unlabelled, undecorated paper packaging. This includes two pizza boxes, cup holders containing coffee cups, clamshell boxes and a paper bag.

Cepi has unveiled an updated test method to evaluate the recyclability of paper products in laboratory conditions, intended to assist companies in achieving their goals of sustainability and circularity.

The company claims to have collaborated with others across the paper value chain, especially members of the cross-industry alliance 4evergreen, to develop the method, which is thought to estimate the recyclability of a paper product in an ‘ideal’ scenario. It reportedly does so by recreating the processes taking place at industrial-scale paper recycling mills in laboratory conditions.

Three new technical annexes have been developed to provide a detailed work description of the testing process, a lab report template, and a ‘decision tree’ with which to assess visual impurities. In the near future, 4evergreen is set to release a ‘recyclability evaluation protocol’ to provide packaging developers with ‘pass through’ criteria in conjunction with the testing method.

According to Cepi, its efforts contribute towards an end goal of making all paper packaging recyclable by 2025 and achieving a 90% recycling rate by 2030.

“To optimise recycling, product design is just as important as the final collection and processing after usage,” says Jori Ringman, director general at Cepi. “This is why one needs to be able to involve all value chain actors into the effort of improving recyclability.

“We hope that this work will support the EU’s transition to a resilient, circular economy.”

Hans Wortman, chair of the 4evergreen alliance, adds: “The method developed together by the actors gathered by Cepi and 4evergreen provides a comprehensive toolkit to boost recyclability validation across Europe in a harmonised way.”

Alliance member Mondi Group recently announced the opening of a new laboratory to test the recyclability of paper-based materials with non-paper components such as coatings.

Cepi’s developments coincide with Nestlé’s decision to repackage its Quality Street line in paper packaging in the coming year.

Cepi has also criticised the EU for its current legislation regarding carbon emissions, presenting a position paper calling for reform in favour of the paper and pulp industry.