As part of responsible product design, we are committed to continuously improving the environmental performance and functionality of specialty paper packaging. As part of this commitment, we are developing the next generation of recyclable packaging solutions together with our R&D partner DELSCI.
Developing functional and recyclable packaging solutions from paper is a vital but challenging step to a greener future. In our new recyclability series, we will deep dive into how we use science, collaboration, and innovation to design some of the best recyclable paper packaging solutions on the market. In the first part of the series, we look at why recycling is so important in reducing waste and meeting circular economy targets.
paper packaging fits into the circular economy model seamlessly
The journey to a more sustainable future goes far beyond our packaging choices. But as packaging is often the first interaction between consumers and businesses, it is a critical element that can have a lasting effect on both consumer perceptions and the environment. The material you select to package your goods speaks volumes about your brand vision and product quality.
Fiber-based packaging is both a sustainable and circular solution. It plays a significant role in reducing landfill waste. Paper is inherently circular; it is made primarily from renewable ingredients and has one of the highest recycling rates globally. Once recycled, paper packaging can be used to make essential products like cardboard packaging, newspaper, towels, and toilet paper. In Europe, paper fibers are recycled and re-used 3.8 times on average.
Paper packaging is an essential component of the circular economy. It relies on raw materials, pulp derived from processing wood which is intrinsically sustainable. The pulp in our products is responsibly sourced and made with fibers from sustainably managed forests from PFEC and/or FSCTM certified suppliers.
understanding what recyclability means on a global level
Definitions of terms such as ‘recyclability’ can differ between geographic regions. Additionally, the scope of regulations, such as what applications and materials are included, can also vary. Recyclability test methods are different for different geographic regions. Local standard practices of recycling facilities are taken into account in the establishment of recyclability test methods. Therefore, products need to be assessed individually.
As a global company, we sell products to customers in more than 100 countries. We have a solid understanding of the different definitions and testing requirements concerning recyclable packaging and are continuously tracking the newest developments.
recycling rates for paper are the highest in the world
While products made from different materials can be recycled, global recycling rates show the ability to be recycled does not necessarily mean recycling occurs. Most plastic waste is either not collected for recycling or lost during the sorting stage, which means it ends up incinerated or in a landfill.
Globally, only 9% of plastic waste is recycled. The recycling rates for paper are significantly higher than the recycling rates for plastic in both the United States and the European Union. The already high rates will continue to increase as the paper industry strives to further increase recycling and material use of recycling residues through the sharing of best practices and the development of cross-sectorial alliances.  
consumers perceive paper as sustainable
Research shows that consumers are increasingly prioritizing sustainability while purchasing products. Consumers are aware of how packaging impacts the planet and actively support companies that use paper packaging. Some are even willing to pay extra if the product and packaging are sustainably sourced. Today, many view paper as a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic. A European consumer preferences survey, commissioned by Two Sides in 2020 concluded the following:
global recycling regulations for packaging
The circularity of packaging is becoming even more urgent. Driven by the shift in public attitudes towards waste and recycling, policymakers have begun implementing ambitious targets and regulations. Creating a circular economy for packaging is an objective that many countries, companies, and customers actively strive towards. Increasing regulations have the principal aim of limiting the negative impact of packaging on both the environment and human health.
- The European Union is demanding a reduction in the use of resources and significantly higher material recycling quotas as part of the EU Circular Economy Package. The European Commission aims to ensure that all packaging in the EU is reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030, in line with the EU Green Deal and the EU Circular Economy Action Plan.
- Recycling targets will be a major part of the California Plastic Waste and Labelling Bills stating that all disposable packaging and “food service ware” must be either fully recyclable or compostable by 2032.
- One of the most ambitious plastic packaging directives out there, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation states that 100% of all packaging will be either reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025.
recyclability is a key to responsible product design
At delfort and DELSCI we strongly support the ambitious measures to drive the shift to a circular economy for packaging. We support these efforts by providing the market with recyclable packaging with functional barriers. We are creating the next generation of recyclable lightweight paper packaging through continuous investment, innovation, and collaboration. Our focus is on lightweight barrier paper solutions that provide the necessary performance against oxygen, aroma, mineral oil hydrocarbons, fat, and water vapor.
Designing smart paper that’s more powerful than ever before, yet still affordable, requires innovations at every stage of the process. We are fully committed, along with our R&D partner DELSCI, to design and produce lightweight barrier papers for food and non-food packaging. Recyclability is one important element of our responsible product design along with ensuring our specialty papers are fit for:
DELSCI is a research organization that invents eco-conscious paper for food and non-food packaging. We’re a team of scientists and technologists on a mission to empower people to consume responsibly. This means replacing plastic (wherever possible) with functional paper that works harder than ever before and helps protect the environment and keeps our oceans free of plastic.
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