Materials Management

The Flexible Packaging Association is currently addressing resource recovery challenges. Engaging stakeholders is critical to the development of viable recovery options. Stakeholders include:

  • Waste Management Companies
  • Municipalities
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Consumers
  • Consumer Product Manufacturers
  • Retailers
  • Industry Associations

Materials Management, among the emerging end-of-packaging-life options, provides the opportunity for recovery of the energy that is contained in flexible packaging.  These options include converting feedstock into clean synthetic fuel gas, which can be used to generate electricity and through pyrolysis which transforms plastics and other waste into fuel pellets, which also generates power.

FPA Studies, Reports Presentations

  • A Holistic View of the Role of Flexible Packaging in a Sustainable World

    FPA commissioned PTIS, LLC to provide a holistic view on the sustainability benefits that flexible packaging offers; provide foresight into future sustainability implications for flexible packaging; and develop six LCA case studies comparing flexible packaging to other formats across a range of products. The report focuses on the segment of the industry that adds significant value to the flexible materials, usually by performing multiple processes such as printing, laminating multiple layers, and adding coatings, all of which aid in performance of the material, improve the consumer/user experience, and/or extend the shelf life of the product. It also focuses on the U.S. perspective, though global data and context are utilized to provide a broader picture and looks at the current state for flexible packaging, while also providing foresight into potential future implications.

  • Flexible Packaging Resource Recovery Update, June 2016
    This Report provides an update on the most recent research findings, pilots, and other activities related to resource recovery of flexible packaging. It also includes a summary of the various projects, collaborative pilots/trials, municipal work groups, municipal collection programs and alternative collection/recovery models.
  • Flexible Packaging Resource Recovery Update, November 2015
    This Report provides an updated review of the FPA Flexible Packaging Resource Recovery: A Work in Progress Brochure to reflect the most recent research findings, pilots, and other activities related to the resource recovery of flexible packaging.
  • Flexible Packaging Resource Recovery: A Work in Progress Brochure
    This brochure discusses industry efforts to address end-of-packaging-life alternatives for flexible packaging, including increasing resource recovery.

  • Continuing Evaluation of Resource Recovery Infrastructure and Processes 
    Continued research into solutions for collection, sortation, and processing of flexible packaging waste.​
  • Who’s Doing What in Resource Recovery   (members only)
    A list of activities and projects that relate directly or tangentially to the recovery of flexible packaging waste

  • Flexible Packaging Association: LCA of Three Types of Flexible Packaging End-of-Life Options  
    Examines cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of three flexible package types (juice pouch, corn chip bag, and shrink film) and three end-of-life scenarios for each. The end-of-life scenarios include traditional landfill, traditional municipal waste incineration with energy recovery (waste to energy), and energy recovery via thermal pyrolysis.

  • End of Life Overview and Recovery Options   (members only)
    An analysis of end-of-life options for flexible packaging waste, addressing barriers to recovering flexible packaging waste through material recovery facilities, collection, and developing end markets.

  • Economics of Collection and Processing Flexible Packaging Waste (FPW) to a Feedstock for Pyrolysis 
    This report examines the economics of options for implementing a collection and processing system that includes sorting and processing of flexible packaging waste.

  • Flexible Packaging Resource Recovery Alternatives to Landfill Pilot Program   (members only)
    Results of FPA pilot studies on new and emerging flexible packaging resource recovery technologies. The two-phased program utilized pre and post-consumer flexible packaging materials to successfully produce diesel fuel, industrial wax, and other materials that can be utilized as energy.

  • Identification and Assessment of Available Technologies for Materials and Energy Recovery from Flexible Packaging Waste   
    A critical analysis of the best available end-of-life technologies for increasing the beneficial use of flexible packaging wastes.​

  • End-of-Life Options for Flexible Packages, Excerpt from the Battelle Sustainability Assessment of Flexible Packaging Report   (members only)
    This excerpt summarizes end-of-life options for flexible packaging: 1) recycling, and 2) waste-to-energy. The evaluation is based on the currently available infrastructure and technologies available for collection, handling, and processing of MSW in the United States. 

  • Flexible Packaging Association Energy from Waste Facility Tour Report   (members only) 
    The Flexible Packaging Association, Sustainable Packaging End-of-Life Task Group, participated in a tour of the Covanta Montgomery Country, MD, Energy from Waste (EfW) facility on July 22, 2009. The facility is owned by Montgomery County and operated by Covanta Energy. The tour was organized by Shanna Moore, DuPont Company and conducted by Paul Gilman, Chief Sustainability Office Senior Vice President, Covanta; and, Mark Freedman, Facility Manager, Covanta Montgomery County. 

Other Resources

  • Comparison of Plastics-to-Fuel and Petrochemistry Manufacturing Emissions to Common Manufacturing Emissions, American Chemistry Council and Plastics-to-Fuel and Petrochemistry Alliance, July 2017 
    This new report examined emissions from a family of technologies known as pyrolysis has determined that emissions from these processes are likely to be very low—much lower than the emissions profiles from other industries, such as food processing, auto manufacturing, and even lower than institutional buildings, such as hospitals and universities.

    Pyrolysis is a versatile process that can convert non-recycled plastics into liquid fuels, lubricants, waxes or even polymer feedstocks. This group of technologies, sometimes referred to as “plastics-to-fuels,” complements mechanical recycling by keeping greater amounts of useful materials out of landfills while reducing the need for virgin resources.
  • World Economic Forum, The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics Report, January 2016
    Today nearly everyone, everywhere, every day comes into contact with plastics. Plastics have become the ubiquitous workhorse material of the modern economy. And yet, while delivering many benefits, the current plastics economy has drawbacks that are becoming more apparent by the day.

    Significant economic value is lost after each use, and given the projected growth in consumption, by 2050 oceans are expected to contain more plastics than fish (by weight), and the entire plastics industry will consume 20% of total oil production and 15% of the annual carbon budget. How can we turn the challenges of our current plastics economy into a global opportunity for innovation and value capture, resulting in stronger economies and better environmental outcomes?​

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