Flexible Packaging Recycling Project Announces Research Results, New Members

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An industry collaborative recently announced the findings of a research program which showed that automated sorting technologies in use today can be optimized to capture flexible plastic packaging—potentially creating a new stream of recovered materials while improving the quality of other recycling streams.

The research, documented in the Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) report, “Flexible Packaging Sortation at Materials Recovery Facilities,” demonstrates that with adequate screening and optical sorting capacity, flexible plastic packaging can be efficiently captured in a single-stream materials recovery facility (MRF).

“Flexible packaging has been so successful because of its material efficiency,” said Gerald Rebitzer, Director Sustainability for Amcor. “It creates a cascade of environmental benefits throughout the entire value chain, and avoids waste at source. By working collaboratively towards a recovery option for flexible packaging, we can further improve the environmental credentials of this packaging type.” 

–Gerald Rebitzer, Director of Sustainability, Amcor

This first phase of the research program sponsored by the Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) collaborative included baseline testing, equipment testing, and a series of recovery facility trials to test existing sortation technologies commonly used in MRFs, such as screens and optical scanners. RRS developed the test methodology and conducted the research trials. Subsequent research will focus on further refinements to sorting technology, economic feasibility, assessing end-use markets for the material, and developing a recovery facility demonstration project.


In addition to announcing its initial research findings, MRFF is pleased to welcome three new members of the collaborative: Target, LyondellBasell, and Plum Organics. The MRFF project brings together brand owners, manufacturers, and packaging industry organizations that are committed to enhancing recovery solutions for flexible plastic packaging.

MRFF members include Amcor, The Dow Chemical Company, LyondellBasell, Nestlé Purina PetCare and Nestlé USA, PepsiCo, Plum Organics, The Procter & Gamble Company, SC Johnson, Sealed Air, and Target as well as the Association for Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR), the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI), and the American Chemistry Council .

To learn how your company can join MRFF, please visit www.materialsrecoveryforthefuture.com or contact Emily Tipaldo (202) 249-6127.


Materials Recovery for the Future is an initiative of the Foundation for Chemistry Research and Initiatives, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization established by the American Chemistry Council.



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