Defra study to boost recycling of flexible packaging

24 Jun 2014

Flexible laminate packaging often contains valuable aluminium and various recyclable plastics, which can be difficult to collect and separate for recycling viably.

Funded by Defra’s Action Based Research programme, LRS will undertake research to develop and trial new methods of recovering and treating flexible plastic and aluminium laminate packaging.

The initial scoping study will explore ways to increase the amount of flexible laminate packaging that is collected and recycled in England, and assess the feasibility of a range of collection and communication approaches for households and commercial premises within different regions of the country.

Dependent on the results of the scoping study, the consortium may go on to implement trials to test collection solutions for flexible packaging and provide insight as to how consumer behaviour and attitudes influence collection models.

Various collection methods would be assessed to ascertain the most effective solution for different demographics and locations.

The outcomes of the research would enable SITA, Enval and other industry stakeholders to evaluate the potential to include flexible packaging in mainstream recycling collections and assess the cost benefit of the different approaches trialled.

It is estimated that more than 160,000 tonnes of flexible laminate packaging, containing aluminium, enters the UK marketplace each year, including such items as food and beverage pouches, toothpaste tubes and pet-food sachets.

If the trials prove successful, and viable collection and recycling schemes are implemented, they could lead to significant carbon emission savings and benefit the secondary commodity market.  Flexible packaging is becoming increasingly widespread and the global market is estimated to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5.1 percent, from 2013 to 2018.


Chartered Institute of Waste Management, 23 June 2014