CIRCULAR FoodPack, or how to enable the circular use of plastic packaging for direct food contact

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Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV
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CIRCULAR FoodPack is working on solutions to enable the circular use of plastic packaging, focusing on the most sensitive product category: food.

CIRCULAR FoodPack is a consortium of 15 European companies and research institutes. The project aims to develop recyclable packaging with at least 50% post-consumer recyclates incorporated behind a functional barrier.

Flexible plastic packaging for food is crucial because it has many application advantages which are needed to meet health and safety requirements. Generally, this type of packaging is made up of complex multilayer and multi-material structures. Depending on the requirements of the packaged goods, seven or more layers may be combined in a single film. However, these film structures cannot currently be reliably sorted and efficiently recycled. With two million tons of multilayer composites for food packaging produced each year, the material streams targeted by CIRCULAR FoodPack are significant and so this innovative process is expected to have a huge impact within the EU packaging sector.

CIRCULAR FoodPack produces high-quality recycled polyethylen. It uses Sensor-Based-Specification (SBS) and Tracer-Based-Sorting (TBS) processes, deinking and thermally assisted deodorisation, as well as solvent-based and mechanical recycling processes. Innovative designs for recyclable and food-safe mono-material laminates will enable reuse in high-value film applications. This will lay the groundwork for a circular economy of food packaging.


Main results
  • Increased yield and quality when sorting products made of composite or multilayer materials
  • Increased recycling of raw materials from products made of composite or multilayer materials
  • Reduced use of virgin raw materials and reduced volume of plastics sent to landfill and for incineration
  • Circular design of products currently made of composite or multilayer materials
  • Support for standardisation in the EU food and packaging industry
  • Contribution to green growth and the transition towards a more circular economy