Nestle UK & Ireland is partnering Coca-Cola Enterprises, Tesco and others to pursue a government funded R&D project on flexible packaging material collection that includes coffee refill pouches.
Together with its other partners, Enval, SITA UK and LRS Consultancy, the world’s largest food and beverage firm (it's main UK coffee brand is Nescafe) will research options for collecting flexible packaging materials containing aluminum to improve recycling and re-manufacture rates.
Alison Ingle, Group Packaging Manager, Nestlé UK & Ireland, said: “This is a very exciting project which we are delighted to be working with all partners involved on, to find the best way to communicate to householders and finding a viable option to collect the valuable material.”
“Aluminum-based plastic laminates are important to the business to help preserve products for the required shelf life, and ‘light-weighting’ our packaging,” she added.
Flexibles contain valuable aluminum and recyclable plastics
Nestle said the materials included coffee refill pouches and food sachets – such flexible laminates often contain valuable aluminum and various recyclable plastics, which can be difficult to collect and separate for recycling viably.
The company said that 160,000+ tonnes of flexible laminate packaging enters the UK marketplace each year, and Nestle said the project could lead to significant carbon emission savings and benefit the ‘secondary commodity’ market.
Flexible packaging is growing as a readily available resource, with the global market estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1% from 2013-2018.
Exploring ways to increase laminate collection rates
The first stage of the study involved looking at ways to increase amounts of flexible laminate packaging collected and recycled in England.
The partners will then assess the feasibility of different collection and communication approaches for households and commercial premises in different regions of the country.
Provided the results are positive, the consortium may conduct trials to test collection solutions for flexible packaging and gain insights into how consumer behavior and attitudes influences collection models.
Nestlé said the project would help it and other industry stakeholders evaluate the potential to include flexible packaging in mainstream recycling collections and assess the cost-benefit of different approaches trialed.