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7. Oct 2021 | Legislation

Fostering recyclability of paper and packaging

Jana Cohrs, FEICA

In light of the transition to an increasingly circular economy, FEICA, the Association of the European Adhesive & Sealant Industry, continues to make contributions to the recyclability and sustainability of pacaging. The association strongly believes that a circular economy is about cooperation of all actors in the supply chain.
FEICA believes that a circular economy is about collaboration in the supply chain and building on existing achievements.
Image source: annca - Pixabay .

FEICA has established a dedicated Technical Task Force (TTF) on the ‘Sustainability & Recycling of Adhesives in P&P [Paper and Packaging] Applications’ (SRAPPA). The purpose of this task force is to learn about, discuss and find solutions to challenges for paper and packaging containing adhesives in a circular economy. One key learning has been, that to help create a more sustainable society, the dots need to be connected between the different life cycle stages a product pases through. Since there are many actors involved, this can be achieved only if everyone in the supply chain is using the same language.

For this reason, FEICA has called for harmonising the terminology to foster clarity in communication between the various actors as well as encouraging the harmonisation of methods to test the recyclability of paper and packaging.

Another important point for FEICA is to maintain the flexibility in the industry to continue developing new and innovative products to meet new challenges. Therefore, FEICA is encouraging technology agnostic pass and fail criteria that may be met by a variety of different technologies.

Additional topics on the SRAPPA agenda include the more general question of whether or when biodegradability in a packaging adhesive is preferable. FEICA is aware that the topic of sustainability is evolving fast and down the road further study and discussion amongst stakeholders will be warranted regarding both these questions and others.

“Communicating on adhesives in plastic recycling”

As part of its programme to reach out to stakeholders, FEICA organised a webinar titled ‘Communicating on adhesives in plastic recycling’, on 28 April 2021, which was very well attended by a broad variety of stakeholders. The purpose of the webinar was to raise further awareness among members and among interested stakeholders regarding the place of adhesives in plastic recycling. The proceedings of the webinar are available on the FEICA public website

FEICA has published several industry position papers related to sustainability in general and recycling of plastics packaging containing adhesives more specifically:
‘Adhesives and sealants for a safe and sustainable future: FEICA’s 5 Guiding Principles in support of a successful European Green Deal’ (2021). This position paper, notably, includes a call for harmonisation: the second guiding principle states, ‘Harmonisation enhancing regulatory predictability, a crucial element of investments and innovation in Europe’.

‘Terminology and definitions to be used in the context of plastic packaging recycling’ (2021). The paper, giving recommendations on the terminology to be used in the interests of harmonisation, classifies plastic-packaging adhesives in terms of adhesives chemistries, the functions of adhesives, and the relevant characteristics of adhesives.
‘FEICA Position Paper on biodegradability and compostability of packaging  adhesives’ (2020). Following  the  lead  of  the  Eunomia report sponsored by the European Commission, FEICA supports the view that recycling of plastic packaging is preferable to the composting of plastic material.

Work with all stakeholders to evaluate recycling options

It is important to emphasise, additionally, that adhesives can accommodate themselves to the recycling and reuse of paper and packaging. Adhesive technologies are developing constantly, and it is important that requirements set by other stakeholders remain technology agnostic so that now and in the future actors in the supply chain can utilise the best adhesive for the job.

FEICA, finally, understands that it has made a start regarding the recycling of packaging, but there is more to do.  FEICA wants to increase its activity in many respects regarding recyclability and sustainability of packaging. The Association believes that a circular economy is about collaboration in the supply chain and building on existing achievements; it wants to work with all its stakeholders to evaluate the recycling options, to update recycling guidelines and to test methods. FEICA would like to be an inspiration for all those involved in the adhesives industry insofar as the recyclability and sustainability of packaging is of great importance.

FEICA has published several industry position papers related to sustainability:

These position papers are available from the information centre on the FEICA website

Voice of the adhesives and sealants industry

FEICA is the European voice of the adhesives and sealants industry. Over 800 adhesives and sealants manufacturers are represented by FEICA through National Association Members in 16 countries, 24 Direct Company Members and 19 Affiliate Members. The adhesives and sealants industry, employing over 45,000 people and accounts for more than 17 billion euros of the EU economy.   

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