Flexible Packaging Can Polish Its Tarnished Sustainability Halo

Packaging environmental guru Bob Lilienfeld recommends you explore four options to improve the sustainability character of this already highly efficient package format.

Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

June 22, 2021

2 Min Read
Flexible Packaging Halo-ftd.jpg
Photo created in Canva

“As flexible packaging got more and more popular,” Bob Lilienfeld says, “it also got more and more visible.”

But the admiration people felt for this source-reduced package waned when recycling took off for many rigid packages and flexible packaging was left out. Flexible packaging is seen much more now in trash cans and landfills because it isn’t recycled at curbside. And this lack of recycling reinforces a negative sustainability impression.

What can you do about that?

Lilienfeld has some great ideas, gleaned from his nearly three decades in the packaging sustainability sector, “Helping to Create Packaging for a Sustainable Planet” as his LinkedIn profile explains.

In this Plastic Possibilities podcast hosted by Rick Lingle — who shares the title senior technical editor for Packaging Digest and its sister publication PlasticsToday — Lilienfeld succinctly outlines the four options brands should consider to score more sustainability points for their flexible packages:

1. The primary direction of flexible packaging should be toward monolayer structures, making it easier to recycle. Then let’s set a more robust process for recycling flexible packaging than the current store-drop-off option.

2. Second, see how much post-consumer recycled (PCR) material you can put into the package.

3. Third, use bio-based materials.

4. Last, compost, if you must. But you’ll just be generating more greenhouse gas.

If you’ve got 17 minutes and want to hear more — including what the next darling material will be for flexible packaging (who doesn’t??!!) — sit back and hit play.


About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

Sign up for the Packaging Digest News & Insights newsletter.

You May Also Like