New research report says systemic change in food packaging recycling only possible through public-private partnerships to drive innovation
A new report from Finland’s Technical Research Center (VTT), “Recycling Food Packaging”, highlights those technology solutions expected to become commercially available in the next five years and says partnerships are essential to deliver the necessary technological innovations in food packaging recycling. VTT’s team examined current and near-future recycling systems for plastic and fiber packaging and found that alliances between brand owners, recycling and sorting technology developers, and waste management companies are fundamental to the development of recycling solutions. Such partnerships are essential for future investment in new recycling technology as they provide, on one hand, accessibility to used material, and on the other hand, a potential user for the recyclate. Commissioned by Huhtamaki the global sustainable packaging solutions provider, the report aims to identify and increase understanding of the key drivers required to deliver a functioning circular economy, in which importantly packaging is not only recyclable, but recycled. “The study predicts a significant increase in industrial chemical recycling capacity in the United States, Europe and East Asia in the next 3–4 years. Chemically recycled polymers can be included in food packaging after full depolymerization, whilst in practice today, recycled polymers certified as food contact material are mainly limited to rPET, used mostly in bottles”, says Mona Arnold, principal scientist at VTT.