If you are a regular at supermarkets, you must have noticed that most items on the aisle of grocery stores come packaged in the flexible plastic material. Items such as baby food, pet food, detergent pods and more, which were earlier sold in rigid packaging now come in flexible bags and pouches.
Though flexible plastic packaging (FPP) offers several benefits such as – lesser environmental impact, enhanced product protection, and fewer resources; it is very difficult to recycle this type of packaging.
The MRFF Collaborative
However, recent research which was commissioned by Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) shows that flexible plastic packaging can be easily recovered using single-stream facilities (MRFs). The automated sorting machines which are already in use in MRFs if optimized can better separate FPP and paper fiber. Also, if manufacturers add screens and optical scanners to the line, the purity of FPP will get enhanced.
Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) is a collaborative project by companies including Dow Chemical Co. PepsiCo Inc., Procter & Gamble Co., Sealed Air Corp., Nestle SA and S.C. Johnson and Son Inc. The project is backed by several trade groups which include the Association of Plastic Recyclers, the Flexible Packaging Association and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
The idea behind the collaboration is to develop a mainstream recovery options for FPP. The project intends to further focus on refining the technical feasibility, lessen the environmental impact and meet end market feedstock requirement.
Larry Baner, Senior Packaging Research Scientist for Nestlé Purina PetCare, St. Louis, said: “Although there is still a lot of work to be done to define the best way to separate flexibles from single-stream recyclables, this research moves us closer to solutions.”