A new publicly available report called A Flexible Packaging Path to a Circular Economy, has been released by the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), the leading advocate and voice for the U.S. flexible packaging industry.
The report, which explores the future of sustainability and flexible packaging through 2030, was compiled in collaboration with PTIS, LLC, a company with a focus on helping clients throughout the packaging value chain develop long term packaging strategies and programs; and Priority Metrics Group, a B2B market research and consultation service.
According to this report, plastic packaging production and use are expected to triple between 2015 and 2050, with flexible plastic packaging generally outpacing overall industry growth. This growth is attributed to the numerous consumer and producer benefits that flexible packaging offers, including convenience, shelf impact, ability to withstand e-commerce distribution, and shelf life extension of many products.
Flexible plastic packaging, write the authors, is generally well aligned with a sustainable materials management framework, which focuses on the efficient use of resources. Streamlined lifecycle assessments (LCAs) often find that flexible packaging has lower fossil fuel use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and amount of material discarded. However, awareness of plastics in global waterways and the environment has led more consumers and legislators to look for packaging to align with circular economy principles.
‘A Flexible Packaging Path to a Circular Economy’ provides information, knowledge, and insights related to flexible packaging and sustainability, circular economy, legislative trends, impacts to the industry along with key outcomes, and actions to enable the industry to align with circular economy principles where materials are collected, sorted, processed, and turned back into new products or packaging.
The report also provides a holistic system view of flexible packaging and sustainability and includes roadmaps that can help drive members of the flexible packaging value chain to align with circular economy principles.
It is based on research that included FPA member and management stakeholder interviews, surveying FPA members, industry expert interviews, and brand owner/value chain surveys and interviews.
While the report has a North American focus, low flexible packaging recycling rates are a global issue. There are additional efforts underway around the globe to address concerns, particularly in Europe through organisations such as Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX) and the U.K. Plastics Pact.