Flexible Packaging in a Circular Economy

This edition of the Technology Minute, features Matt Reynolds, editor of Packaging World, talking with Ken Brunnbauer and Evan Arnold from Glenroy® about flexible packaging’s inherent environmental benefits and the advantages it offers over more traditional options. You will learn why flexible packaging is sustainable and what the future holds for flexible packaging.  Interested in knowing the benefits from utilizing flexible packaging? Watch the video and read on to learn why it is a great option for products in many industries!

What is flexible packaging’s role in the circular economy?

Flexible packaging’s role in the circular economy is a popular topic. As we look for ways to be kinder to the environment, we find that flexible packaging is a key element to sustainability throughout the circular economy. The way flexible packaging is built, its structure is more sustainable in a variety of ways when compared to rigid plastic or glass. Flexible packaging uses less material and less water during the manufacturing process. Since flexible packaging is lighter in weight, it allows vehicles to use less fuel and emit fewer greenhouse gases during transportation. Flexible packaging also traditionally has less waste left over than rigid packaging which means less waste going into landfills, even when factoring in recycling rates.
Furthermore, associations such as the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), and the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) are working together to help us as a society better understand how we can separate, collect, and utilize flexible packaging waste. It is a very exciting time, and the opportunities are endless for flexible packaging in the circular economy.

What is Glenroy doing to address the global waste challenges?

Flexible packaging is typically a complex multi-layer structure that provides a barrier to protect the product inside. Until recently, the complexity of flexible packaging posed a challenge for recycling. However, new programs from organizations like the SPC have identified ways for flexible packaging to be recycled. Their How2Recycle store drop-off program offers brands an option for recyclable pouches and helps educate consumers on the recycling process. The How2Recycle store drop-off pouches are collected after use and re-purposed to make composite decking, furniture, and other outdoor products. The store drop-off pouches from Glenroy enable consumer brands to provide the right amount of barrier to protect their product, get it to their consumers safely, and offer eco-friendly packaging. Another eco-friendly flexible packaging option from Glenroy is post-consumer recycled (PCR) content pouches. These premade pouches are made with post-consumer recycled resins sourced from recycled plastic jugs. We will continue to collaborate with the FPA, SPC, and the APR to understand  newunderstand new recycling testing guidelines to ensure our flexible packaging fits within the circular economy. Additionally, as an organization we regularly review our manufacturing processesto we regularly review our manufacturing processes to ensure we contribute to a cleaner environment. Our efforts are focused on air emissions control, energy conservation, and recycling. Through our recycling programs, we keep more than 3 million pounds of material out of landfills and put it back into the recycling stream.

Will the sustainability trend in flexible packaging continue?

Absolutely! Sustainability, environmental awareness, and recycling continue to be what consumers are asking for, and what we need as a society. We plan to keep our finger on the pulse of the circular economy and remain actively involved in the conversation. Our focus will stay on the types of flexible packaging that we offer, but also on how we can help bridge the gap between the current recycling streams and what is needed in the future. This includes cross-collaboration within the industry and educational efforts with brand and consumers on the steps that flexible packaging providers are taking to be as sustainable as possible.

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