You can't talk about sustainability without going into circles. With that, we mean: mentioning the circular economy.
Building a more sustainable future doesn't just mean thinking about and adapting which materials we use – we should also think about what to do with the products and materials that are already out there. Recycling often isn’t enough, or the right answer.
The circular economy has emerged as a transformative model for businesses worldwide. It holds a special place in our plans for sustainability as well. In this article, we’ll explain in layman's terms how we’re interpreting it and how it's redefining its role in the packaging industry.
What is the circular economy (in the packaging world)?
The concept of a circular economy is starting to reshape how the packaging industry approaches sustainability. It's a model that goes beyond recycling; it's about creating a closed-loop system where materials are used and reused for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them during use, and then recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life.
What does the circular economy mean for bulk packaging?
The circular economy is particularly relevant to packaging providers like us, due to the substantial waste traditionally associated with the industry. Packaging has often been viewed as a single-use entity, designed for one-time protection and delivery of goods, resulting in a significant environmental impact once discarded.
At best, we were able to recycle some of it. The circular economy aims to change this narrative by:
- Designing for longevity – creating packaging that's designed to last, to be reused, or easily repurposed, rather than disposed of after a single use.
- Using innovative materials – using materials that are not only durable but also recyclable or biodegradable, ensuring they can go back into the cycle after their packaging life is over.
- Reducing resource use – minimizing the amount of raw material needed by making packaging as efficient as possible, reducing the environmental footprint from the start.
- End-of-Life focus – developing clear and easy ways for packaging to be returned, recycled, or broken down, so that the materials can be reborn into new packaging.
The good news? This isn't just a theoretical concept; it's a practical business strategy that's being implemented today.
The challenge? Practically implementing it while maintaining a level of safety and quality. But it’s a challenge we’re taking on, by researching and developing new products, together with our partners.
Understanding the lifecycle of an FIBC
To understand what is possible in terms of circular economics with FIBCs, we first need to understand the hurdles.
The circular journey of an FIBC encompasses several stages, each with its challenges and opportunities. Masterpack Group confronts the complexity of recycling FIBCs head-on, tackling issues such as:
- Material complexity: FIBCs are often constructed from polypropylene, which is recyclable, but may include other materials that complicate the recycling process.
- Contamination and degradation: used FIBCs can be contaminated with residual contents, and exposure to environmental factors can degrade the plastic, both of which can effect the recycling quality.
- Economic considerations: establishing a recycling infrastructure for specialized items like FIBCs requires investment and a market for the recycled materials.
How Masterpack embraces circular economy goals
Masterpack Group's commitment to sustainability is driven by a set of ambitious goals designed to:
- Minimize waste generation through smarter design and production.
- Increase the use of recycled and recyclable materials in products.
- Enhance the efficiency and sustainability of supply chains.
The centerpiece of these goals is the integration of recycled materials into Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBCs), a move that will significantly reduce the dependence on new plastics and support the market for recycled content.
Here’s what we can do (and are doing) so far
- In early 2023, Masterpack Group began offering FIBCs composed of 30% post-consumer regranulate, ensuring quality and supporting local recycling initiatives.
- Creating our own closed-loop system by encouraging customers to participate in a recycling program that facilitates the return and repurposing of used FIBCs.
- Partnering with local Dutch recyclers to source high-quality post-consumer regranulate.
To learn more about partnering with Masterpack Group and contributing to a more sustainable future, get in touch today.