The Guidelines

‘Designing for a Circular Economy’ is a set of comprehensive guidelines to help anyone working in the flexible packaging value chain design packaging solutions which are recyclable.

The guidelines have been developed by, and for, the whole value chain, from flexible packaging manufacturers to brand owners and retailers.

The content is based on broad value chain consensus, using the best available data from testing and commercial practices.

At the start of this process, CEFLEX used the work of the New Plastics Economy ‘Project Barrier’ pioneer project to inform the development of ‘Designing for a Circular Economy’ (D4ACE) guidelines. They seek to align and accelerate progress and multiple organisations have participated through consultation or are actively involved in the D4ACE guideline development.

The guidelines focus on polyolefin-based flexible packaging (mono-polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and PE/PP mixes) and contain information and practical advice on designing polyolefin-based flexible packaging to be recyclable, covering the key elements of a flexible packaging structure.

This includes setting limits on specific materials and elements to enable designers to maximise the sortability and recyclability of their flexible packaging.

In addition to offering practical advice on packaging design, the guidelines also offer detailed insight into current sorting and mechanical recycling processes for polyolefin-based flexible packaging.

The guidelines are based on what are currently considered the best sorting and mechanical recycling processes in Europe and draw on the expertise of hundreds of CEFLEX stakeholders.

They are intended to benefit anyone in the flexible packaging value chain, including:

  • Brand owners and retailers
  • Film producers and packaging converters
  • Material producers including plastic, paper and aluminium as well as inks, coatings, adhesives and additives
  • Technology suppliers, end users and others
  • Waste collectors, sorters and recyclers
  • End users of recycled materials

As an initiative, CEFLEX aims to provide forward-looking and future-proof solutions in line with the EU circular economy package. The capabilities of sorting systems and mechanical recycling are likely to develop in the coming years, so the guidelines will be reviewed on a regular basis.

CEFLEX is calling on the whole value chain to use these guidelines as a tool when designing and specifying new flexible packaging structures. Adoption of these guidelines will increase the amount of, for example, recyclable food packaging on the market and encourage increased collection of flexible packaging materials for recycling.

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