The flexible packaging recycling project, Materials Recovery for the Future, brings together brand owners, manufacturers, and packaging industry organizations that want to improve recycling and increase recovery rates for flexible film and packaging options such as resealable food packages, pouches for soups and tuna, pet food bags, and snack bags. The research aims to create a mainstream recovery solution for flexible packaging.
Project sponsors include Dow Chemical, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé Purina PetCare and Nestlé USA, Sealed Air, and SC Johnson, as well as the Association for Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, the Flexible Packaging Association and SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association.
Resource Recycling Systems, which developed the test methodology, will conduct the first phase of the research, which will include baseline testing of the existing sortation technologies commonly used in material recovery facilities, such as screens and optical scanners. A representative mix of the flexible packaging generated by consumers will be created and added at an appropriate concentration to single stream recyclables for testing. This mixed stream will be run through the sorters, and the amount of flexible packaging captured in the resulting bale will be measured to determine sorting effectiveness.
Diane Herndon, sustainability manager at Nestlé Purina PetCare, says the flexible packaging research is the first to use this methodology. The group says it expects to publish results in the second quarter of 2016.
In another effort to increase recycling rates for flexible packaging, Axion Consulting, Dow Chemical, Nestlé, Unilever and other global companies say they have made “significant” process in a collaborative R&D project, called Reflex. The partners include: Amcor, Dow Chemical, Interflex Group, Nestlé UK, SITA Holdings, Tomra Sorting and Unilever UK Central Resources.