When designing packaging, it should be a key goal to minimise the use of resources. In addition, packaging needs to be recyclable, and must cover the full range of functional requirements for packaging.
This may, in certain cases, reveal conflicting goals for the overall design of the packaging system.
Circular Analytics meets this challenge for the development of packaging and ensures sustainable optimised solutions.
Packaging offers ecological advantages
Packaging fulfils many essential roles: from protection, storage and transport functions to aspects such as easier use and the provision of product information. These functions play an essential role in sustainability as, without packaging, valuable products are likely to be damaged, and food would be lost. In many cases, the production of the packaged goods involves considerably greater environmental impacts than the packaging, and maximum product protection must thus be given top priority.
The development activities at Circular Analytics are focused on meeting the challenge of packaging optimisation, for maximum product protection.
In today’s social discourse, packaging has a negative image
Even though packaging can contribute to a sustainable economy, as a consumer good, its public reputation tends to be negative. Furthermore, problems such as littering, the production of emissions and use of resources for packaging have also been addressed. For these reasons, there has been a growing demand for greater sustainability in packaging design in recent years.
The declared goal of Circular Analytics is to pursue a sustainable approach to packaging in a holistic context and thus enable an improvement in packaging design to prevent negative environmental impacts. Recycling is one aspect of these endeavours and provides the basis for the transition to a circular economy.
The Circular Economy Package of the EU provides for an increase of packaging recycling rates
There are various initiatives focused on closing material and product loops for packaging. Circular economy has become an issue that is strongly advocated by lawmakers as well as international organisations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. A circular economy increases resource efficiency and reduces dependence on resources, while at the same time it also improves the ecological sustainability of products. The Circular Economy Package of the European Union, which entered into force in July 2018, encourages a circular approach to raw materials at the European level, and has brought about an amendment to the EU Directive on packaging and packaging waste. Here, the focus is on increasing the recycling rates for all packaging materials, on the use of recycled materials in new packaging, and on intensifying extended producer responsibility schemes, as well as on limiting the marketing of individual plastic articles.
When assessing recyclability, Circular Analytics takes into account differences in national legislation as well as in collection and recovery structures. The resulting standardisation requirements are incorporated into the process of optimising packaging design, which, whenever necessary, is processed through comprehensive research projects.
In this context, Circular Analytics backs initiatives aimed at a European standardisation of assessment methods and design guidelines.
Circular packaging design is essential for the circular economy
Circular packaging design provides the prerequisites for meeting the development goals of the circular economy in the packaging industry. This includes measures aimed at maximising the period of use of materials (reuse), as well as at recycling (design for recycling) and the use of recycled materials (design from recycling).
The integration of all stakeholders in the supply chain is of key importance for a well-functioning circular economy. Circular Analytics structures, coordinates and manages design projects while taking ecological impact indicators into consideration and involving the entire supply chain to enable sustainable product development.