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New competition to identify recovery solutions for multi-material flexible packaging


November 12, 2018
By PrintAction Staff

The Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), a membership-based collaborative that focuses on sustainable packaging solutions, has officially launched the FlexPack Recovery Challenge, an open competition for innovators, entrepreneurs and start-ups to submit new ideas for reprocessing technologies capable of recovering multi-material flexible packaging waste.

The idea for the challenge began in the SPC’s Industry Leadership Committee on Multi-Material Flexible Recovery, a working group comprised of brands, plastic manufacturers, and packaging suppliers who jointly recognize the opportunity for new recovery technologies. Multi-material flexible packaging — which can consist of upwards of nine layers of plastics, aluminum, adhesives, paper, and other substrates — is widely used for a number of household products including pet food bags, confectionary wrappers, and chip bags and represents the fastest growing segment within the packaging industry.

It tends to provide advantages in cost, material efficiency, and low emissions intensity, but the same characteristics that make it lightweight and effective also present hurdles for recyclers and other recovery outlets, explains the Centre, adding that few technologies exist that can beneficially recover the embodied environmental investment within multi-material flexible packaging, and the FlexPack Recovery Challenge aims to uncover and showcase new technologies that can be scaled to provide meaningful solutions.

“A system of sustainable packaging requires an effective, robust means of recovering the inherent value in all packaging waste, and novel, potentially unheard of recovery solutions will be needed to complete the sustainability story for this important packaging category,” said Adam Gendell, Associate Director, Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

Submissions will be accepted until December 15, 2018, and participation is open to any start-up, university, or individual entrepreneur with a pilot-ready reprocessing technology that can recover multi-material flexible packaging in a way that is environmentally beneficial, economically productive, and socially just.

Finalists will be invited to present their work at an Entrepreneurs Showcase at SPC Impact in Seattle, Wash., on April 2, 2019, and one winner will receive special recognition and celebration on stage at SPC Impact, one year of SPC membership, and will join a special mentorship program jointly administered by the Center for the Circular Economy and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.