New life for flexible packaging, at the start of the Supply chain protocol

Signed by the Italian Food Union, Giflex and Ucima. Goal: to make flexible packaging more recyclable and sustainable

Every year, in Italy, about 180 thousand tons of flexible packaging go on the market, of which 80% destined for the protection, conservation, transport and marketing of food products. Flexible packaging, mainly composed of plastic materials, is widely used by the food industry, which chooses them for 50% of its packaging.the. In terms of ecological impact, 70% of flexible packaging is recyclable, although the actual sending for recycling is conditioned by some legislative and technological limits (linked to the very composition of flexible packaging, mostly multilayer and / or multi-material).

The issue of the effective recycling of this material is of particular importance for our economy, both because flexible packaging is widely used by our agri-food sector and because Italy is among the European leaders in the production of machinery for the construction of flexible packaging and packaging (a market with a total turnover of over 11 billion euros). In order not to waste such an important resource as flexible packaging and make a concrete contribution to the environment, the vice president of Unione Italiana Food, Paolo Barilla, the president of Giflex, Alberto Palaveri, and the vice president of Ucima, Riccardo Cavanna, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of the Minister of Economic Development, Giancarlo Giorgetti, and of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, Vannia Gava.

With the initials of this protocol, the Associations undertake by January 2022 to organize a first technical working table, with members from the supply chain, to analyze the problems that hinder the sustainability and recyclability of flexible packaging and develop possible solutions. The officials of the Ministry of Economic Development (Mise), the Ministry of Ecological Transition (MITE), the National Packaging Consortium (Conai) and the National Consortium for the Collection, Recycling and Recovery of Plastic Packaging will also be invited to the table ( Corepla).

The synergies resulting from the Memorandum of Understanding will then be the basis for the constitution of a series of working groups which will, among other things, check which technological interventions can be made on the packaging production lines and on the packaging machines to make it possible to use new materials and to study technological solutions to improve automatic sorting and pre-treatment systems for plastic packaging waste and prevent them from being sent to landfill or incineration.

Assuming, as a starting target, a recovery and recycling of 50% of flexible packaging collected, a first goal will be to recover about 50,000 tons of plastic materials to be used for a second life.