PAC NEXT, launched in the fall of 2011 to facilitate the journey to A World without Packaging Waste, held its first open meeting to report on the progress of the initial five committee projects. Through a transparent collaborative process, 103 North American retailers, packaged goods manufacturers, package material and container converters, sustainable material management, NGOs and government are collectively focused on the PAC NEXT vision.
Systems Optimization Group
The systems optimization group led with the unveiling of the Systems Map, to identify areas of opportunity for improvement in the material flow of discarded packaging throughout the system. The map starts with eight capture points of entry into the system including: residential; industrial; office/commercial and institutional; retail/grocers; public space; food services; litter; and a category for other. Materials flow in through six types of collection methods including: return to vendor; deposit return vendor & depot; blue box; green bin; and depot. From collection, materials are processed for recovery, composting, landfill or waste to energy. The map details the capture rates of 110 materials through the residential capture pathways to produce real recycling rates and a separate recovery rate.
The model facilitates "what if" modeling scenarios, puts the variability of the stream into perspective and identifies the sheer number and types of discarded materials that must be managed. It allows comparison of different management methods and the implications on overall recycling and recovery rates.
In the future, it can be used to develop the most appropriate management methodologies in a harmonized approach and will be useful for setting policies regarding deposits, recycling/ composting, and EFW. It also provides key information for consideration in development of end markets
Materials Optimization Committee
The materials optimization committee highlighted their work on collection of all films and bags. Collection options have been reviewed that include single and two-stream blue box collection, store take-back and depots. A development of a pilot study is in process. The goals of the study are to:
• To assess opportunities and priorities for improving cost-effective recovery in all current collection systems;
• To identify best practices or determine better methods to achieve higher recovery rates and increase film quality for all film grades; and
• To assess future system investments to achieve more effective and efficient curbside and depot collection programs and diversion performances for all film plastics.
The innovation goup is developing a decision tree/flow chart evaluation tool that identifies any unintended consequences of introducing new packaging materials or existing packaging materials with a new application, within the current end-of-life infrastructure. The categories are based on materials such as specific plastics streams like HDPE, PP and PET and glass, steel, aluminum, paperboard, corrugate etc. The goal is to help companies self-identify unintended consequences.
Phase two is to create a directory of experts in each material category that can help advise and facilitate solutions if concerns are identified. The evaluation tool will continue to evolve as new technologies develop in material properties and in materials management. This tool will be linked to the PAC NEXT Sustainable Packaging Design Guide which was also launched at the meeting. See below for more info.
The policy committee has embarked on a phase one pilot to test the research methodology and evaluation criteria on three programs in Ontario, Quebec and Fost Plus in Belgium. Phase two will expand the process to 12 programs. The objective is to develop a fact base of global best practices related to EPR and other recovery policies, with a focus on measurable cost, quality and quantity metrics and to provide PAC NEXT members' insights into policies that have worked elsewhere and facilitate industry consultation with governments on issues relating to resource recovery.
Sustainable Packaging Design Guide
In addition to the project updates, the new PAC NEXT Sustainable Packaging Design Guide project was launched. Co-Chaired by SPC and EEQ, this project is designed to build on the expertise of SPC and EEQ's previous work and create a link from end of life material management back to the design process. The Global Protocol on Packaging Sustainability (GPPS) will be a cornerstone building block.
Two break-out sessions were held to explore the design for the environment vs design for recycling and the role of energy from waste in a world without packaging waste.
On Sept. 28-30, 2012, PAC will continue to build on its work by hosting the Creating Next Life Solutions conference in Ottawa, Ontario. Contact Lisa Abraham at [email protected].
Contact Nina Goodrich, PAC NEXT program director for more information on PAC NEXT initiatives at [email protected].