II Meeting of Packaging and Circular Economy.

Experts point out that all agents in the packaging value chain need more dialogue to promote a Circular Economy

  • Nearly 100 professionals attended the II Meeting on Packaging and the Circular Economy organized by the Cluster.
  • Business representatives who have invested at the regulatory table have spoken out against the tax on non-reusable plastic packaging
  • Packaging companies such as Pascual, Coca-Cola and Platos Tradicionales say it is important to create a culture of recycling

Valencia, 04 December 2020. One hundred professionals from organisations and companies related to the packaging value chain participated in the 2nd Meeting on Packaging and the Circular Economy, an open debate where the issue of the ecological transition of the production model was discussed from the perspective of the packaging sector.

The meeting, organized by the Packaging Innovation Cluster, and held online due to the pandemic, has brought together both manufacturers and user companies of packaging, as well as representatives of the administration and environmental entities, in order to encourage an open debate among them and promote cooperation.

This is precisely one of the aspects highlighted by Inèdit's CEO, Jordi Oliver, in his opening speech, in which he stressed that to achieve a circular economy more dialogue is needed between all the agents in the value chain. He also offered important data to improve, since the current world economy is 90% carbonized (disposable) and only 10% from renewable sources, so it is necessary to consider a change of paradigm together.

Regulatory and legislative environment

Meanwhile, representatives of the CEV (Valencian Business Confederation) and ACES (Association of Spanish Supermarket Chains) have shown, at the table dedicated to legislation, their concern about the regulations on the Circular Economy, as they can be misinterpreted and could discriminate against the online channel.

Likewise, business representatives have spoken out against the new tax on non-reusable plastic packaging, since although it is planned to collect 491 million euros in the state's General Budget Plan, there are still many doubts of interpretation. In particular, they have asked for clarification of what percentage of plastic a container must have in order to be subject to this tax and for a minimum threshold to be defined, and have asked for compostable material, bags and sanitary material to be exempted.

The experts at this table have claimed that companies have been managing packaging efficiently for years and that they prefer to maintain this model. They have also highlighted that communities are sometimes even more restrictive than national legislation, and that this in turn is more restrictive than European legislation.

On the other hand, professionals from Ecoembes, SP Berner, Anarpla and Driade Soluciones Ambientales took part in the recycling and post-consumption table. With regard to how the end of life of packaging and its recycling systems are managed, the focus has been on the fact that packaging waste made from compostable materials must go to the brown container so that it can decompose, but they have clarified that this is a law that has yet to be developed because it is not compulsory in Spain until 2030.

Companies have also shown high expectations in the use of biodegradable materials, although they have stressed that legislation must change to facilitate their use in a wider range of products. Similarly, the experts have stressed that there is a lot of work to be done in cooperation to evolve the model and system of waste recycling.

Technology solutions

In order to debate the new technologies that are driving the circular economy in the field of packaging, Repsol, Lecta Group, Clear Pet and Innovative Film Solutions participated in another round table discussion. One of the outstanding aspects on which they agreed was that, in all those technologies and materials where there are no recyclability systems, a problem is being generated, so work must always be done on alternatives that are real.

Solutions such as eco-design, improving the properties of materials to reduce thickness, the use of monomaterials to make packaging more recyclable while maintaining functionality and avoiding food waste are some of the aspects on which Repsol focuses, for example, and which also works on mechanical recycling and chemical recycling technologies.

Paper has also been mentioned as a strategic material on which, for example, the Lecta Group is working so that it can be used as primary packaging, with more resistance but conserving its sustainability and recyclability. Regarding the possibility of using paper as a material in contact with food, it has been announced that applications are being developed to improve performance, but that time is needed.

The last of the tables has contributed the vision of large packers and representatives of the Great Consumption such as Coca-Cola, Pascual and Traditional Dishes, who have explained their initiatives, projects and achievements with respect to their strategies of Circular Economy.

All have agreed that packaging strategies require a business commitment from companies, and that not only consumers demand this sustainable packaging, but even other channels such as HORECA. And that, in summary, it is important to create a culture of recyclability in each company.

The experts at this table have contributed ideas such as marketing water in materials that have never been used before, such as cardboard. They have highlighted that the reduction, putting on the market the least amount of material possible, is another of the pillars of the strategy of these companies.

Finally, they commented that consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for a sustainable product, and that the real challenge is to make sustainability profitable.

Finally the president of the Cluster, José Orbe, and its director, Jesús Pérez, have thanked the participation of nearly 100 professionals who have met in a meeting "thatis strategic, because sustainability, circularity and recyclability of waste should be a priority for companies, and it is a meeting that despite the pandemic we wanted to carry forward, because it has come to stay," they concluded.

Speakers at the II Meeting of Packaging and Circular Economy

About the Cluster

The Packaging Innovation Cluster is a business association with more than 70 members. Its objective is to facilitate the generation of business between the associated companies by integrating the entire packaging value chain.

Its associates, which include paper, cardboard, plastic and wood companies, respond to the agricultural and food industry, the automobile industry and the tile industry.

The Packaging sector has annual sales of over 3.2 billion euros and employs more than 12,000 people in the Valencian Community. The sector represents 10% of the aggregate turnover of the industries based in the Region and 2.6% of the Valencian GDP.

REBICOM Project has received funding from European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 849533.

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