An extensive testing programme to generate robust and independent data to update the ‘Designing for a Circular Economy’ guidelines
During development of the initial Designing for a Circular Economy (D4ACE) guidelines, a number of knowledge gaps were identified that need to be filled and supported by robust test data.
An extensive programme of independently conducted testing focuses on flexible packaging structures that are not currently considered widely sorted or recycled, and could not yet be classified in the D4ACE guidelines. The programme will also provide additional data to support refined design guidance for flexible packaging structures already covered in the D4ACE guidelines.
A major collaboration with UK Research and Innovation is enabling more comprehensive testing to urgently address essential gaps in knowledge.
An international network of leading universities, laboratories and experts help advise, develop, peer review and deliver the testing programme. In addition a taskforce of over 60 CEFLEX stakeholders is involved in the development and delivery of the testing programme for updating the D4ACE guidelines.
The results of the programme will deepen our understanding of specific design elements and their impact on sorting and recyclability. Together with increasing levels of collection, sorting and recycling of flexible packaging, this will further improve the quantity and quality of recycled materials by:
- Understanding the impact of different materials and elements in a flexible packaging structure on its sortability and mechanical recyclability
- Demonstrating if, and how, certain flexible packaging structures that are not currently widely sorted and mechanically recycled in existing streams, can be technically sorted and recycled.
- Giving further analysis and guidance to improve design choices and how flexible packaging moves throughout end-of-life processes to generate value in a circular economy
The testing programme targets two key areas:
- Sortability testing on a range of flexible packaging structures / designs, comprising
- Near Infra-red (NIR) classification testing at InstituteCyclos-HTP and the Dutch National Test Centre for Circular Plastics (NTCP)
- Eddy Current sorting and metal detector testing for packaging structures containing aluminium foil
- Size and shape-based sorting testing, including wind sifting and ballistic separation processes
- Mechanical recyclability testing on a range of materials and elements such as inks, adhesives and barrier materials used in flexible packaging structure. Recyclability testing is conducted by a group of established laboratories across Europe, including Aimplas, Cyclos-HTP, Impact Solutions and Proplast with a focus on polyethylene and polypropylene waste streams.
The results of the comprehensive testing programme will be used as the basis for updating the ‘Designing for a Circular Economy’ (D4ACE) guidelines for polyolefin-based flexible packaging.
An international network of leading universities, laboratories and experts help advise, develop, deliver and peer review the testing programme and a Phase 2 Taskforce of over 60 stakeholders supports the development and delivery of a testing and trial programme to generate data and a basis for updating the D4ACE guidelines.