Suez Recycling and Recovery UK is working with a string of brands to set out a roadmap on how better to recycle flexible packaging.
It set out the roadmap in a report, ‘mapping the value chain for flexible plastic packaging in the UK’, which was produced on behalf of the Flexible Packaging Consortium.
The Flexible Packaging Consortium was formed 18 months ago, when its work with Suez began, and is comprised of the brands Nestle, Mars, Taylor of Harrogate and Ella’s kitchen.
Technical development director for Suez and author of the report, Stuart Hayward-Higham said: “This report summarises many months of research and collaboration across the value chain to understand issues and demonstrates a real potential to move more plastic packaging into the recycling bin.
“Collecting flexible plastic packaging and films from homes and businesses would help improve recycling rates and create a more circular system for flexible plastic packaging, so we are encouraged both by the findings and by the effective partnership working that made it possible to complete the research.”
In a summary of research undertaken by Suez, the report emphasises the importance of flexible packaging kerbside collections from businesses and households, and analyses how this would look under upcoming legislation, such as extended producers responsibility (EPR) and the deposit return scheme (DRS).
It reported that currently only 10 to 17% of councils collect film or flexible packaging from the kerbside, and many of those already in place only collect limited types of packaging.
Research outlined how a DRS in 2023 would “free up space” in collection trucks as some many materials will move away from kerbside collections.
It added that including flexible packaging in the core materials collected for recycling would use this space in a “cost efficient way”.
Under the amended EPR system being proposed by the government, the Flexible Packaging Consortium is also keen that its packaging is collected “directly from homes and businesses”.
It said that with both the amended the EPR system and kerbside collections, it will “drive the necessary investment in sorting and recycling infrastructure”.
The report then warned that if packaging is not collected from the kerbside, then little infrastructure will be developed and feedstock to fill them will not be available.
The Flexible Packaging Consortium reiterated its intention to ensure that packaging is collected for recycled and “actually recycled”.
The report emphasises that moving this waste stream away from energy recovery or landfill will require “continued collaboration across sectors”.
The Flexible Packaging Consortium said it is calling on stakeholders to read the report and join the effort to deliver solutions for flexible packaging waste.