Huhtamaki and Finland's VTT publish report highlighting latest technological innovations in food packaging recycling and which ones may become commercially available in next five years; groups call for more supply chain partnerships, effective use of EPR

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ESPOO, Finland , March 24, 2022 (press release) –

As part of our 2030 Strategy and sustainability commitments, we have set a range of targets covering the materials we use to deliver the safe, hygienic and fit for purpose packaging, needed by consumers globally. 

These targets include ensuring that 100% of our products are designed to be recyclable, compostable or reusable; that 100% of our fiber will come from recycled or certified sources; and that more than 80% of raw materials will be either renewable or recycled. 

We know today that it is not enough to manufacture recyclable products, collectively we have to build the systems to recycle all waste and focus on reducing our carbon footprint now.  Delivering on these objectives requires a better functioning circular economy, in which our packaging is collected and recycled and we are able to obtain food safe recyclate (especially plastic).

Last year, Huhtamaki commissioned VTT (Finland’s Technical Research Center) to produce a white paper examining current and near-future recycling systems for plastic and fiber packaging. Our objective was to identify what key drivers are needed and to stimulate our thinking and understanding of the current and near-future recycling technologies and solutions available today.

VTT’s report, “Recycling Food Packaging”, outlines the status of recycling in Europe and the US and the wider societal and technological factors which impact recycling rates. It also acts as a useful summary of the latest technological innovations in food packaging recycling, and highlights those solutions expected to become commercially available in the next five years. It also argues that partnerships are essential to deliver the technological innovation in food packaging recycling that is available today.

We want to see that the packaging materials, which provide access to safe, affordable foods and help prevent food waste, are recycled in ways that maximize their value to both the planet and people, and therefore help deliver a low carbon circular economy by becoming regenerative. 

We are calling for two things.  Firstly, a real push for systemic change towards low carbon circularity, which goes beyond individual companies and brings value chains together. Secondly, the use of innovation and partnerships and the more effective use of Extended Producer Responsibility systems to build a material-positive system for fit-for-purpose food packaging.

We hope the report will act as reference point to support collaboration between industry, civil society and governments.

The report can be found here.

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Jason Irving
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