The future of flexible packaging: calling for a new level of ambition for circularity

Marco Hilty, president - Flexible Packaging, Huhtamaki
Marco Hilty, president - Flexible Packaging, HuhtamakiPhoto - Huhtamaki

Today, flexible packaging is used by the food and beverage, personal, and home care industries, as well as pharmaceutical, to protect the countless life-enhancing and life-saving products every day. And demand is increasing rapidly. The world’s population is projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030 and surpass 9.7 billion by 2050, necessitating a significant increase in food production. Global supply chains will need to adapt to this growth, and flexible packaging will play a critical role in helping to deliver safe and affordable products to consumers, improving accessibility no matter where they are.

Flexible packaging protects products that are vital to society. It offers functional benefits as it is lightweight yet durable, protecting and preserving food efficiently during transportation and storage, extending its shelf life, minimizing food waste, and boosting affordability and accessibility. While flexible packaging has huge benefits during use, everyone across the value chain must equally take action to address its end-of-life.

To increase the recycling rates of flexible packaging, it is a must to recognize how often flexible packaging structures in the market are compromised between functionality and recyclability. Many packaging structures, such as multilayer laminates with aluminum foil and plastic, pose a challenge for today’s predominant recycling technology, mechanical recycling, leading to lower-quality recycled material.

Marco Hilty, president - Flexible Packaging, Huhtamaki, says, “What makes me excited about being part of the Huhtamaki innovation journey is that we believe in our ability to drive real change, not over the next decade, but in the next few years, in line with our customers’ circularity commitments. Looking ahead by 2030, we want to see the flexible packaging value chain fully transformed, achieving true circularity, and carbon efficiency and bringing a net positive impact to the global food chain. To get there, we must run faster than we have done before. Stay tuned – over the next few months, we will share much more about our solutions to redesign the future.”

Huhtamaki fully supports the commitment of many of its customers to achieve 100% recyclable packaging by 2025. The ongoing discussion about the right design criteria for sustainability and recyclability in flexible packaging is of paramount importance, and we want to see the ambition level increase across the industry. This is the only way to ensure alignment of efforts to expand the current recycling infrastructure and boost consumers’ trust in the system.

This article was first published on Huhtamaki website.

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