4evergreen Alliance releases its ‘Guidance on the Improved Collection and Sorting of Fibre-Based Packaging for Recycling’; the guidance reviews pertinent regulatory and institutional frameworks in the EU

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BRUSSELS , September 6, 2022 (press release) –

A state of the art review of the collection and sorting systems across Europe, conducted by 50 companies throughout the entire packaging value chain, highlights several recommendations to improve efficiency. The 4evergreen alliance has endorsed systems that provide adequate sorting at the point of collection.

After two years of work, combining the expertise of 24 individuals and validated by a further 75 industry representatives from 50 companies, the 4evergreen alliance has today released its Guidance on the Improved Collection and Sorting of Fibre-Based Packaging for Recycling. The Guidance reviews the pertinent regulatory and institutional frameworks and provides an assessment of available collection and sorting scenarios.

In principle, all fibre-based packaging products are recyclable. 4evergreen endorses several recommendations which are key in achieving EU fibre-based packaging waste recycling rate targets, regardless of the route from collection to recycling. The Guidance examines ‘routes’ from collection to recycling at the dedicated paper and board mills and provides practical recommendations on how to improve collection.

Jonathan Edmunds, project co-lead and Recyclability & Sustainability Manager at DS Smith, said “The guidance lays out recommendations to enhance the collection and sorting systems throughout Europe. The industry has taken the first steps, and now we need support from policymakers both at the European and national level to take note”

The document is intended to guide the implementation of future collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure, in order to meet EU legal requirements and realise 4evergreen’s ambitious targets including a 90% recycling rate for fibre-based packaging. It does not undermine alternative models that exist already, which contribute to the high-performance of the fibre-based packaging recycling.

Hans Wortman, Head of PfR Sourcing at WEPA and 4evergreen Chair added that “the publication of the Guidance on Collection and Sorting is another key milestone for our alliance. Following the Circularity by Design Guideline, we are now showing that the industry has some serious momentum behind the movement to reach a 90% recycling rate for fibre-based packaging – and the knowledge on how to achieve it”.

To ensure the efficiency of collection and sorting of fibre-based packaging, 4evergreen recommends:

  • Legislative initiatives incentivising investments and participation of all relevant stakeholders in separate collection and post-collection sorting, earmarked at increasing the recycling rate of fibre-based packaging.
  • Following best practices in collection and sorting of household packaging as described in the Guidance. 4evergreen endorses the principle of source-separated collection.
  • A harmonised communications approach to consumers on how to sort packaging waste through a labelling system to protect the Single Market.
  • Separate recycling targets at the EU-level for fibre-based packaging by source: o A separate recycling target of >85% for separate household collection o A recycling target of >90% for packaging coming from both industrial and commercial sources
  • Mandatory separation at sorting facilities for household collected lightweight packaging (LWP) of fibrebased packaging from plastic and metal. In some cases, further sorting at these facilities of liquid packaging board from other fibre-based composite packaging will also be needed.
  • EPR fee structures that reflect to the largest extent possible the real net recycling costs for each type of packaging material, including the need to invest in additional recycling capacity where necessary.

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