The topic of “recycling” remains as hot as it’s ever been, maybe even more so. Despite being put on the back burner with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, it continues to be a significant subject of discussion among environmentalists. This is especially true in the flexible packaging industry. However, there appears to be some confusion with consumers and the many smaller brand owners in the marketplace, who don’t have the luxury of in-house expertise to provide them with the guidance they need.
In order to assist these smaller brand owners, we’ve listed 5 areas that are worthy of exploration where recyclable flexible packaging is concerned. While most of this will be seem fairly basic to packaging industry veterans, the areas listed below will help others expand their knowledge and provide them with some direction:
- Contact your vendors and their resin suppliers – last year’s film structures may not be appropriate for the current year due to constantly evolving manufacturing capabilities and resin technologies. Although many brand owners don’t use resins anymore, it would behoove you to work with packaging film vendors and their resin suppliers in order to ensure that your flexible packaging is environmentally-friendly.
- Determine the specifications of your film’s structure – is it coextrusion, laminated, a monolayer, or a material laminated to a coextrusion? Are there some structural aspects that are recyclable while others aren’t? Is there a way the structure could be modified so it can be recycled? What materials are the packaging layers made from?
- Find the right path to recycling – can your packaging be deposited in curbside bins or will consumers have to take it to a different drop-off location for recycling? This needs to be determined before making any inaccurate claims.
- Research the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s “How2Recycle” program – this program provides recycling information and instructions that prevent recyclables from winding up in landfills. It also reduces confusion through the creation of labels that provide recycling instructions or ways to submit inquires to the local municipality about specific packing materials. Furthermore, it provides consumers with easy-to-understand product-related instructions such as:
- “empty and reattach pump”
- “empty before recycling”
- “rinse and replace lid”
- Review the APR Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability – the Association of Plastic Recyclers guide defines the term “recyclable” and provides an outline for recycling plastics in the marketplace.
With eco-friendly packing material being the trend, it is best to reduce the carbon footprint. In recent years, cosmetic companies have starting opting for recyclable resources that aid in ecological protection instead of only using plastic as packaging material.
For additional information regarding recyclable flexible packaging or to speak with a packaging specialist, contact APG at your earliest convenience.