Contributing to a Circular Economy

Circularity starts with the use of renewable materials, such as forest-based materials made from sustainably sourced biomass that replenishes and regrows over time and ends with recycling at end-of-life. By enabling the substitution of finite and fossil-based resources, renewable materials secure a long-term raw material supply, and support the role of forests as carbon sinks.

Call to action! We call on EU policymakers to further accelerate the transition to a low carbon circular economy by:

  • Fully recognising the contribution of a circular economy to climate neutrality. Sustainably-sourced renewables that store carbon dioxide, while replacing carbon intensive fossil-based resources are an important and effective element to reach climate neutrality. In the words of the EU Commission, “sustainable biomass has an important role to play in a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy” i. A recent report stresses that replacing fossil-based materials with forest-based products from Swedish forests would lead to a savings of around 42MtCO2, which represents more than the total CO2 emissions of a country like Denmark.
  • Increasing recycling through strengthening separate collection.
  • Incentivising low carbon packaging solutions such as beverage cartons.
Recycling building blocks: collection & sorting

Effective collection and sorting is the precondition to recycling. By collecting all packaging materials separately, the volume of materials available for recycling is significantly increased, providing a more predictable, higher quality waste stream.

In most Member States, citizens either have their beverage cartons collected from their homes – for example, in different colour bags or bins – or they take them to nearby collection points. Setting a national collection or recycling target for beverage cartons will ensure that the collection of all packaging meets legal requirements and helps contribute towards ambitious recycling targets. As of 2019, some countries are ahead of the curve, with specific collection targets in place in Austria (50%), Belgium (90%), Germany (75%) and France (59%).

Our industry commits to significantly increasing the collection and recycling of beverage cartons to reach a 90% collection rate for recycling and at least a 70% recycling rate by 2030, verified by third parties.

A circular approach: the recycling process

Recycling of beverage cartons in Europe has grown steadily over the last number of years, and in 2019 announced a 51% recycling rate in the EU28.

The recycling of products made from renewable material ensures that valuable resources contribute to a circular economy.

Although not comprised of one single material, beverage cartons are fully recyclable and recycled in Europe at scale, with the fibre separated from the polymers and aluminium in a pulping process.

Numerous projects will be operational from 2020 to ensure the continued recycling of aluminium and polymers into new materials. Our industry’s pan-European recycling platform, EXTR:ACT, is currently monitoring and supporting six new projects aimed at increasing recycling of the non-fibre elements of beverage cartons.

For additional information on recycling technology and innovation, we invite you to visit EXTR:ACT’s website.