The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) developed a new infographic that summarizes the future of flexible packaging and provides foresight into future opportunities for flexible packaging with the emergence of e-commerce, innovation, and sustainability trends.
Innovating to Fight Food Waste
Flexible packaging innovates to reduce food waste and helps to extend product shelf life. Global food waste is a persisting challenge, and flexible packaging can help decrease food spoilage and waste and extend product shelf life through use of barriers and compostable materials.
Higher Packaging Recovery Goals
As the U.S. and other countries drive toward higher packaging recovery goals, it will require additional focus on new flexible packaging recycling technologies and recovery systems. Consumer education is vital to impact behavior change and effectively utilize new systems. Over 80% of marine debris comes from countries that lack waste management infrastructure. Global investment in infrastructure, industry initiatives, and consumer behavior can help in reducing marine pollution. Investment in infrastructure in developing countries is needed to reduce ocean-bound plastics, and more consumer behavior education in developed countries, where the infrastructure is already robust, is needed to reduce litter.
Waste Management and Recovery for Flexible Packaging
Maximizing value recovery and minimizing environmental impact at the point of package disposal requires a conscious choice by the consumer. The Store Drop-Off Program/Wrap Recycling Action Program allows consumers to recycle flexible packaging that is made from polyethylene (PE). This include items such as grocery bags, newspaper bags, produce bags, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, overwraps for napkins/paper towels/bath tissues, and air pillows used in e-commerce.
How2Recycle package labels provide consumers with instructions on which flexible packaging components can be recycled and how. The program informs consumers about flexible package components that may be dropped off at stores with their plastic grocery bags for recycling.
Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) is an industry coalition across the flexible packaging value chain that is engaged in finding solutions for improved recovery of flexible packaging. The MRFF project is an industry initiative committed to advancing auto-sorting of flexible packaging at materials recovery facilities (MRFs) from single-stream waste collection systems, including end-markets for sorted material.
Integration with Smart Technology
Advances in technology help solve challenges within the packaging supply chain and encourage positive consumer behavior associated with end-of-life management of flexible packaging. Smart technology, mobile devices, and the growth of the “Internet of Things” will enable printed electronics to be included on packaging to communicate with consumers and educate them on where and how they can recycle flexible packaging.
Optimization for e-Commerce
Lack of sustainable e-commerce packaging is increasingly a concern among consumers. Flexible packaging has an opportunity to reduce the amount of material used in e-commerce shipping, optimize shipping space on trucks, and design packaging for easy returns.
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