Essential to the project was the support of 4evergreen members, which over nine months carried out tests that informed the improvements of the method and the development of three technical annexes.
The method is particularly relevant to the paper packaging industry. Many paper packaging options already enjoy high recycling rates but are also increasingly fulfilling new functionalities. These need to be considered by brand owners aiming to reach ever-higher performance in terms of circularity and sustainability for their products.
Design guidelines and evaluation protocols are developed to support value chain members in these efforts. The goal is to make all paper packaging recyclable by 2025 and reach a recycling rate of 90 percent by 2030. The updated Cepi harmonized recyclability test method offers a solid basis for this work and allows paper products across Europe to be tested for their recyclability in identical conditions.
The testing method allows for emulating in laboratory conditions the processes taking place at an industrial scale in paper recycling mills. Its new annexes were developed through intensive work provided by companies involved in 4evergreen. The workstream established a ‘reality check’ of the method and informed the efforts of testing institutes.
4evergreen is an alliance bringing together the entire fiber-based packaging value chain, including several global blue-chip companies.
The three new technical annexes include a detailed work description of the test method, a lab report template and a ‘decision tree’ for assessing visual impurities.
4evergreen will soon release a ‘recyclability evaluation protocol’, which will provide packaging developers with ‘pass through’ criteria based on the updated recyclability testing method. This will further support the industry in producing fiber-based packaging compatible with a low-carbon, climate-neutral society.
‘To optimize recycling, product design is just as important as the final collection and processing after usage. This is why one needs to be able to involve all value chain actors into the effort of improving recyclability. We hope that this work will support the EU’s transition to a resilient, circular economy,’ said Jori Ringman, director general of Cepi.
Hans Wortman, chair of the 4evergreen Alliance, added: ‘The method developed together by the actors gathered by Cepi and 4evergreen provides a comprehensive toolkit to boost recyclability validation across Europe in a harmonized way.’