Closed Loop Foundation releases ‘Recycling of Plastic Film Packaging’ study

The Closed Loop Foundation, the independent 501(c)(3) affiliate of Closed Loop Partners, New York, has released a study that it says offers insights on how investors can advance film and flexible packaging recycling. The study, “Recycling of Plastic Film Packaging,” available at www.closedlooppartners.com/plastic-flim-recycling, was conducted with SC Johnson’s support.

Closed Loop Foundation’s Rob Kaplan says, “Investors and supply chain leaders are looking for opportunities to catalyze recycling of flexible packaging, but there is a lack of real investable opportunities at the stage of commercialization. We identified a critical need to support the industry and investors by creating a roadmap for investing in flexible packaging.”

The study characterizes the categories of flexible plastic packaging and offers insights on challenges and trends to determine how investors can best affect this sector.

“Even though more film and flexible packaging are produced than plastic bottles, recycling of those products far lags that of bottles—it is important that we capitalize on emerging technologies and develop markets for this under-recovered stream of materials,” says Tim Buwalda, senior consultant at Orlando, Florida-based RSE USA, the study’s author.

While retail collection remains a viable way to collect clean polyethylene bags and wraps for recycling, it will struggle to reach scale, according to the study. Plus, recycling opportunities are needed for other flexible packaging materials.

The study says the key opportunity is investing in end market development to increase the value of these materials.

Emerging investment opportunities also exist in sorting and processing of flexible packaging, but philanthropic or research funding remains critical to test the most effective solutions to incorporate flexible packaging into the recycling system, the study says.

“Research such as this shines the light on the current industry and the struggle with getting more flexible film to the curb,” says Kelly M. Semrau, senior vice president of global corporate affairs, communication and sustainability, SC Johnson, Racine, Wisconsin. “SC Johnson is committed to finding a solution that brings Ziploc brand bags and other flexible films into the curbside recycling stream. While we know this is a long-term endeavor, there is a way to accomplish this goal.”