Extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes play a major role in the collection, sorting and recycling of post-consumer products. According to Ceflex - the Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging, a collaboration of over 180 European companies, associations and organizations representing the entire value chain of flexible packaging - these schemes can function as potential key enablers and coordinators of the circular economy.
The organization has created a number of "Criteria for Circularity" processes which can serve as a practical checklist for EPR schemes for stakeholders to work through on their journey to making packaging waste materials circular. They come at a critical moment, as EPR schemes look to meet higher recycling targets and align with other legislation driving changes to how packaging waste is collected, sorted and recycled to be used again.
The criteria are a basis for further discussion and development in four pillars: operational, financial, communication and governance. These pillars connect and build on work from the Consumer Goods Forum and others, adding further perspectives for flexible packaging.
“In a circular economy, all materials need to be captured, recycled and used in a wide range of sustainable end markets – independent of cost and recycling targets,” explained Graham Houlder, project coordinator of Ceflex. “EPR systems designed to deliver circular materials and funded accordingly, will help create the conditions to allow all parts of the value chain to make the changes necessary to go circular.”
Expra, the EPR industry body, has welcomed the initiative.
“Organizations with specialist insights and a critical mass of value chain participation can help stakeholders led by EPR boost what is collected, sorted and recycled to be used again and again,” said Expra official Joachim Quoden. “Flexible packaging is a challenging area where we need to bring the relevant partners and innovations to the table, and here Ceflex can be an important part of the solution”.
Expra is the alliance for 29 packaging and packaging waste recovery and recycling systems from 27 countries which are owned by obliged industry and work on a not-for-profit basis.
The criteria were developed with brand owners, EPR schemes and the entire flexible packaging value chain through several months of feedback sessions and are now available publicly for the first time.