Flexible packaging: Urgent need for action to implement the circular economy
Koehler Paper represents the paper industry's strong arguments ▪Paper-based packaging solutions support the circular economy
Flexible packaging is the fastest growing category in the plastic packaging sector. It is primarily disposable packaging, which can only be recycled to a very limited extent and also ends up in the environment. It is therefore the market segment that poses by far the greatest challenges on the way to a circular economy. Koehler Paper was one of the key stakeholders in the recent project of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to identify options for a circular economy in the flexible packaging sector.Koehler's expertise supports initiative to achieve UN Sustainable Development GoalsThe Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an international charity, was established in 2010 with the aim of accelerating the transition to a circular economy. It conducts evidence-based research on the benefits of a circular economy and how it can help address global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss.Supported by contributions from over 100 experts, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation recently presented a comprehensive strategy for flexible packaging. It identified 21 specific and urgent actions that companies and policymakers should take immediately to make significant progress towards the targets set for 2025 and beyond. The strategy has been developed primarily for companies, cross-sectoral initiatives, decision-makers and other organisations that have already taken steps towards a circular economy. The recommendation includes calls to action aimed at leadership teams, as well as detailed insights of interest to internal R&D teams.Jens Kriete, Koehler Group Sustainability Manager, explains: "We are very pleased to support the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a highly respected global initiative, in its fight against plastic pollution with a living circular economy." As a leading supplier of speciality papers, Koehler has contributed its expertise in flexible paper packaging solutions and sustainable fibre supply chains. "We are convinced that the Koehler Group as a company can contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Our expert contribution to this initiative is part of our contribution," says Jens Kriete.Paper instead of plastic could lead to higher recycling ratesThe use of paper instead of plastic, where possible, seems to be the better strategy in the area of flexible packaging. This could lead to higher recycling rates compared to plastics. In addition, synergies with food composting systems could be achieved. Paper-based flexible packaging is characterised by the fact that it degrades faster in the environment compared to plastic-based packaging. It is estimated that the strategy developed could be applied to about 15% of existing flexible plastic packaging, using existing technologies.