Designing for a Circular Economy

a collection of images representing flexible packaging materials

An essential tool to meet your goals

Flexible packaging is an important part of our modern world. Generally made of plastic, it can also include other materials such as paper or aluminium foil and helps ensure products reach consumers safe and fresh, preserving nutrients, taste, and quality.

In the case of medical products and pharmaceuticals, flexible packaging keeps them sterile and protected while also making it possible to make them tamper and counterfeit proof.

Being very light and thin, it reduces the impact of transportation, reduces waste of the goods it protects and often uses far less material than alternative packaging.

But its low weight and volume, which make it so useful and resource-efficient, also present a challenge once the packaging becomes waste.

As concern grows about the effects of packaging on the environment, the entire value chain is now working to overcome these challenges to deliver a circular economy for flexible packaging and reduce our reliance upon virgin materials.

Designing flexible packaging suitable for collection, sorting and recycling after use is critical – and a number of factors are increasing the sense of urgency:

  • Meeting new legislative requirements
  • Achieving industry’s stated sustainability goals
  • Widely shared environmental concerns

Why is the design of flexible packaging critical?

a conveyor in a recycling plant

Regulatory pressure for recyclability

graphic showing a collection of prominent companies involves, including Danone, Mondelez, P&G, Nestle, Unilever and Pepsico

Meet industry’s own sustainability commitments

student environmental protesters holding a banner saying we're missing our lessons so we can teach you one

Address wider environmental concerns

Designing for a Circular Economy Guidelines

A unique collaboration

The Designing for a Circular Economy Guidelines are the result of a unique collaboration, drawing on the technical, environmental and business expertise of hundreds of CEFLEX stakeholders.

The guidelines aim to make flexible packaging circular by:

Giving clarity to brand owners, retailers, converters, film producers and others in the value chain on what structures they should be innovating to support the drive to achieve a circular economy for flexible packaging

Helping to increase the level of collection, sorting and recycling

Producing higher quality recycled materials to be kept in the economy and used in a wider number of sustainable end markets.

They have been developed by, and for, the whole value chain.

They give the complete picture: building understanding of end-of-life processes, giving practical advice on circular economy design principles and making sustainable design choices for recyclability clear.

CEFLEX stakeholders and the wider flexible packaging industry are encouraged to consult and apply the principles and information provided by the guidelines to help deliver significant environmental improvements without compromising functionality to protect, package, transport, sell and use the product.

Find out how you can meet your sustainability & circular economy requirements

Get the Guidelines