The imperatives and challenges of sustainable flexible packaging regulation

CEFLEX members ask for five years instead of 2 to gear up

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5 steps to build a better economy for flexible packaging CEFLEX
5 steps to build a better economy for flexible packaging CEFLEX

The latest update on the CEFLEX website at end-June notably asks for the Member States to grant sufficient time for innovative packaging and the requisite scale-up of new sorting and recycling infrastructure to be five rather than two years. However, please note that the collaboration of European companies, associations, and organizations representing the entire value aims to make all flexible packaging in Europe circular by 2025. This date will affect the export of both consumer products and packaging from India. At the same time, the diluted government regulations on the waste control order still need to define the next steps. This process seems to be delayed because of the pandemic but needs to be urgently looked at and brought forward.

Both citizens and some of the global and Indian brands are keen to take the circular economy further. However, it is unfair to some companies if there is little or no progress on regulation, recognizing there has to be a balance between progress and growth. Several Indian and global companies are taking up waste collection and recycling of plastic and flexible packaging and using more sustainable materials and processes. Still, voluntary efforts will remain asymmetrical as far as costs and cannot achieve what regulation can. Typically, industry in India prospers with less regulation, but here is a case where perhaps only law can create a healthy and fair ecosystem and desirable outcomes for all.

We reproduce below the most recent CEFLEX update from www.ceflex.eu and encourage you to download the entire CEFLEX document Designing, Developing and Delivering the Circular Economy for Consumer Flexible Packaging from https://bit.ly/3qDZ85Z.

The critical role of circular economy guidelines

The Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX) initiative is a collaboration of over 170 European companies, associations and organizations representing the entire value chain of flexible packaging – from raw material producers, packaging converters, brands, retailers, recyclers, suppliers and beyond. Together, we work to make all flexible packaging in Europe circular by 2025.

The CEFLEX ‘Mission Circular’ vision commits to collection of all flexible packaging with over 80% of the materials entering a recycling process to be returned to the economy and used by sustainable end market to substitute virgin materials. To deliver the circular economy, it is imperative the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive revision recognise the CEFLEX Designing for a Circular Economy guideline applicability for household consumer flexible packaging applications.

Key Messages

  • Recyclable, light weight, resource efficient flexible packaging is a key enabler of achieving the EU Green Deal objectives of climate neutrality by 2050 and recyclable packaging in a viable and cost-efficient manner by 2030.
  • Defining recyclability is packaging format specific and needs to be based on agreed design for recycling guidelines. Setting a blanket 95% target material recyclability threshold for all packaging would seriously impact flexible packaging’s ability to deliver the required functionality.
  • We call for CEFLEX Designing for a Circular Economy (D4ACE) Guidelines to be legally recognised as the guidelines by which industry and legislation assess ‘recyclability’ for consumer flexible packaging1 below A4 size.
  • The CEFLEX (D4ACE) Guidelines have been developed via multi-stakeholder inputs and are endorsed by a significant percentage of actors across the full consumer flexible packaging value chain including plastic producers, film producers and converters, brand owners and retailers, the collectors, sorters and recyclers and many others.
  • For plastic-based consumer flexible packaging1, CEFLEX D4ACE Guidelines require at least 90% of the functional unit to be the targeted mono-material for it to be deemed recyclable: i.e., fully compatible with mechanical recycling.
  • We call for the PPWD legislation to promote, incentivize and facilitate the investments in collection, sorting and recycling (mechanical, physical and chemical) infrastructure that will ensure the recycling of flexible packaging towards the attainment of EU’s plastics packaging recycling targets and the circular economy.
  • We ask for Member States to grant sufficient time for innovative packaging and the requisite scale up of new sorting and recycling infrastructure to be 5 rather than 2 years.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.

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