The consulting firm has received funding from Defra to perform research.
LRS Consultancy (LRS), a London-based research firm, in partnership with the environmental services company Enval, the waste management and recycling firm SITA UK, the consumer products companies Nestlé UK & Ireland and Coca-Cola Enterprises and the retailer Tesco UK, is undertaking a study that will address various approaches for collecting and treating flexible plastic and aluminum laminate packaging materials.
To assist with the study, the U.K’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has provided to LRS and its partnership group with funding.
The initial study will explore ways to increase the amount of flexible laminate packaging that is collected and recycled in England. The study also will assess the feasibility of a range of collection and communication approaches for households and commercial premises within different regions of the United Kingdom.
Depending on the results of the study, the consortium may implement trials to test collection solutions for flexible packaging and provide insight as to how consumer behavior and attitudes influence collection models. Various collection methods would be assessed to ascertain the most effective solution for different demographics and locations.
According to LRS, the outcomes of the research would enable SITA, Enval and other industry stakeholders to evaluate the potential to include flexible packaging in mainstream recycling collections and assess the cost benefit of the different approaches being tested.
Dee Moloney, managing director of LRS Consultancy, says, “Brands are increasingly using flexible laminate packaging to help preserve their products for longer, reduce the amount of material used in the manufacturing process and ‘lightweight’ their packaging. However, sometimes such initiatives result in unintended challenges for the resource management industry to manage and process these mixed-material products post use.
“The consortium is uniquely positioned to deliver this research and we are delighted to have received a good response from a broad range of interested parties who are keen to support the project,” Moloney adds.
“LRS, as lead, has a strong track record of managing action-based, resource efficiency research projects and, in particular, for delivering those with new recycling service provision,” she continues.
It is estimated that more than 160,000 metric tons of flexible laminate packaging, containing aluminium, enter the U.K. marketplace each year.
If the trials prove successful, and viable collection and recycling schemes are implemented, they could lead to significant carbon emission savings and benefit the secondary commodity market.
The global market for flexible packaging is slated to grow by 5.1 percent per year to 2018.
“Aluminum is a hugely valuable and versatile material so it's important that we capture and recycle as much of it as possible. We are delighted to be working with collection companies and brand owners to find the best way to collect flexible laminate packaging and establish increased recycling rates for this material as part of our commitment to the UK’s circular economy,” says Carlos Ludlow-Palafox, Enval’s managing director. The company is a developer of a process to recycle plastic laminates containing aluminum.