True Recycling in Flexible Packaging: Efforts From All Parties

What kind of garbage should the outer packaging of used laundry detergent and the snack packaging be? Would you like to join them if they are collected and reused? In order to realize the closed-loop high value utilization of flexible packaging; and explore a new model for the development of plastic circular economy, we need efforts from all parties.

1) Why is it "flexible packaging"—— Huge volume, recycling needs breakthrough.

Polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene… There are hundreds of plastics that look similar in life, and each of them has different recycling methods. The process is complex. Because of its diverse materials, complexity, light weight and other characteristics, plastic flexible packaging has become a global problem.

It is estimated that more than half of the raw materials used to produce plastic flexible packaging will be used to produce plastic packaging in 2022. The global plastic recycling rate has been hovering around 30%, and now it is also in the “bottleneck” of growth. The recycling of plastic flexible packaging needs to be broken through urgently.

In principle, each kind of plastic can be recycled. However, compared with traditional packaging, mono-material plastic can not only ensure the necessary functions of packaging, but also greatly reduce the complexity of the process in the utilization stage, thereby improving the utilization rate. Mono material is one of the important indicators of easy recycling and regeneration.

According to the special research report “The Future 2025 of the Mono Material Plastic Packaging Film Market” recently released by the third-party testing agency Smithers, its market size will be 20.44 million tons ($55.9 billion) in 2022, and may increase to 26.03 million tons ($70.9 billion) in 2025. Asia Pacific, North America and Western Europe are the three major consumer markets of single material plastic packaging film in the world. In 2022, the above three regional markets will account for 48.6%, 17.2% and 15.5% of the global single material plastic packaging film market respectively.

In fact, many countries now require that commodity packaging should use single material packaging materials as much as possible, which can achieve 100% recyclability.

Under the guidance of policies and the influence of the concept of sustainable development, the industry has been paying more attention to single material plastics. The flexible plastic that can be seen everywhere in our daily life has become the experimental field of plastic packaging with single material for many enterprises, constantly joining the army of “single material”.

Up to now, multiple brands of Mars, such as Dove, Snickers, Crispy Rice, Baolu, Weijia, and Meishi, have introduced single material soft plastic packaging to facilitate the recycling of the back-end.

Food packaging  is extremely important here cause normally food packaging need high barrier function. If the standard mono-material PE pouches come out the market many years ago, then the high barrier mono-material PE pouches only comes out these 2 years. Only after the invention of high barrier MDO-PE film

Not only the food, but also the daily chemical product packaging around us that we need every day is slowly changing into a single material plastic packaging.

P&G has introduced many products in the past few years that use single material plastic packaging, such as Tide laundry beads. MDO-PE film is the solution for outer layer lamination PE/PE bag.

In the design of front-end plastic products, full consideration should be given to the recyclability and recyclability. It is very important to improve the recovery rate and high value utilization of waste plastics from the source.

2) Why true recycling in Flexible packaging is difficult: Need more effort in all parties

Although the single material soft plastic packaging shouldering the heavy task of recycling is generally favored by the industry, the recycling situation is quite embarrassing: most of the packaging bags have “gone” to the landfill or incinerator, and did not play its due value. In fact, consumers do not have the concept of recycling soft plastics.


At present, the recycling value of soft plastic packaging has not been effectively explored, consumers have not strong awareness of soft packaging recycling, and it is difficult to identify whether it is a single material soft packaging that is easy to recycle and regenerate.


At present, consumers do not have a high awareness of the recyclability and reusability of plastic flexible packaging, and there is a bottleneck in the high value utilization of plastic flexible packaging.


Infrastructure construction is also a big problem: some cities have also established corresponding sorting centers and recycling facilities, but there is a lack of collection, sorting and recycling facilities for recyclables, including soft plastics, which also brings some challenges to the later high value utilization.


In fact, many experts and scholars have called for the establishment of a special sorting organization for plastic waste before this, so that these resources can be turned into treasure as soon as possible.


It is only the first step for flexible plastic packaging to become a single material. It is difficult to form large-scale social effects by relying on the strength of enterprises alone. The government, industry and enterprises need to work together to issue relevant standards to jointly promote the high value utilization of recycled plastics.


The prevention and control of plastic pollution is an extremely complex social problem, which requires extensive mobilization of the government, enterprises and the public to build a full chain management system covering plastic design, production, circulation, consumption and recycling.


When plastic packaging waste is recycled, good technical support and business case carrier are also needed to truly realize the high value utilization of recycled waste. At present, each link has challenges, but it is also a huge opportunity.

3) How to recycle successfully?

The policy has support, the market has demand, and the enterprise has power. It is in this context that it is possible to realize real recycling.


We hope that through the publicity and guidance of the project, consumers will pay attention to the recycling of plastic flexible packaging for consumer goods, promote the correct recycling, classification, delivery and reuse of single material plastic flexible packaging in daily life, explore the popularization of socialization and the establishment of recycling standards, so as to make the best use of everything and help the green circular economy.


By gathering the strength of each link of the industrial chain and taking the design standard of plastic products for easy recycling and recycling as the guidance, the aim is to establish the “design production consumption recycling recycling high-value application” system of plastic flexible packaging. Break barriers, realize the recycling of plastic flexible packaging and gradually move towards closed-loop high-value utilization.


We can cooperate with upstream and downstream enterprises to innovate, carry out the design of plastic flexible packaging that is easy to recycle and regenerate from the source, improve consumer awareness, tap the recycling value of plastic flexible packaging, and break through the bottleneck of high-value utilization.


Mars hopes to explore and create a feasible and replicable local demonstration project of soft plastic recycling through cooperation with all parties, promote the improvement of relevant policies, regulations and infrastructure construction while improving the recycling rate of soft plastic, and initially establish a soft plastic recycling system.


Prior to this, P&G has done a series of work in the prevention and control of plastic pollution, hoping that the implementation of this project will promote the recycling of plastic flexible packaging to a new level.


By working with value chain partners, associations and the government to realize the implementation of the business model from technology to physical objects to the final perfection, we can truly improve the recycling and high-value reuse of plastics. The future has a long way to go, but we are full of confidence.


“We hope to improve the recycling rate of plastic flexible packaging waste, contribute to the construction of a ‘waste free city’, and explore a new model for the development of the global plastic circular economy.

4) Conclusion

In a word, if we really want to achieve true recycling in flexible packaging, we will need below:

Recyclable flexible packaging ( mono-material flexible packaging such mono-material PE pouches)

Flexible packaging waste collection service ( collect all the waste from end users to recycling facilities)

Flexible packaging Recycling facilities ( turn the waste into new plastic products)

What Longdapac Can Help?

Longdapac is the leading flexible packaging manufacturer from China since 1991. We focus on sustainable flexible packaging as you can see below:

100% Fully Recyclable High Barrier Mono-Material PE Pouches

High Barrier MDO-PE Film


Longdapac is the first high barrier MDO-PE film manufacturer in China and it is the first high barrier mono-material PE pouch manufacturer in China. ( MDO-PE / PE and MDO-PE / High barrier MDO-PE / PE)

Longdapac recyclable high barrier mono-material PE pouches can meet the recyclability of:

Longdapac is a BRC and ISO certified factory with annual capacity of more than 25,000 tons.

As leading flexible packaging companies in China, basically Longdapac can satisfy all your recyclable flexible packaging needs, both standard and high barrier.


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