New guide aims to improve the design of flexible barrier packaging


A new set of design principles for plastic-based flexible barrier packaging (PBFBP), published today, aims to increase the feasibility of recycling PBFBP, which currently has one of the lowest recycling rates in the world.

PBFBP is commonly used to package many types of products, including crisps, instant coffee, juice, soap, and beauty products. However, due to its light weight and often highly complex composition, it is currently not recycled in practice and at scale (as quantified by the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment definitions).

Project Barrier, a collaborative Pioneer Project led by Amcor, brought together stakeholders from the entire plastic value chain, from material and packaging producers to brand owners and recyclers, to create an initial design guideline to minimise contamination and help increase the quality and value of PBFBP recyclates.

The guide is a first step in creating common global design standards for flexible barrier packaging, proposing a way forward to simplify and align packaging design for PBFBP, and providing guidance for further research and development. It will be further developed, tested and refined by the CEFLEX initiative as part of their ongoing work in design for recyclability. However, before the packaging can be considered recyclable, it will also be necessary to establish infrastructure for collecting, sorting and recycling PBFBPs and prove that recycling works in practice and at scale.

Today’s plastics system faces challenges that no organisation can address alone. Pioneer Projects are pre-competitive collaborations that are led and run by participants of the New Plastics Economy initiative. They invite stakeholders from across the plastics value chain to design and test innovations that could change the way we make, use and reuse plastics. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is not to be held responsible for any output from the Pioneer Projects. It focuses only on facilitating the setup and engaging in the process, and on encouraging circular economy thinking and the application of a systems perspective.