Carrots wrapped in flexible plastic packaging

Flexible Plastic Packaging

The complex challenges we must unpick 

Flexible plastic packaging is generally a resource efficient material; it’s lightweight and can play an important role in protecting food from becoming waste however the system for recycling this material in the UK is fragmented.

A coordinated effort involving the entire value chain is required to fix the system to create a circular economy for flexible plastic packaging.


The scale of the challenge

Flexible plastic packaging represents
of all UK citizen plastic packaging, second only to bottles at 44%
Yet only
is currently recycled with just 17% of local authorities collecting the material (as of April 2020).

We must focus our efforts in: 

  • Designing packaging that can be recycled and sorted.

  • In the short term, increasing the number of front of store collection points provided by many supermarkets.

  • In the long term, implementing collection at kerbside in all local authority areas.

  • Investing in sorting and reprocessing capacity and capabilities.

  • Ensuring recycled flexible plastic packaging has strong and stable end markets.

Essential guidance for businesses

Creating a circular economy for flexible plastic packaging

Read our roadmap to 2025

Recycling your customers' plastic bags and wrapping

Read our guide for retailers

Non-mechanical recycling of plastic

Non-mechanical recycling technologies may be vital in achieving not only the 70% effective recycling rate but also enabling the average 30% recycled content of packaging.

Read our market study

Non-mechanical recycling - the opportunities and challenges

Essential viewing for businesses looking to gain knowledge and understanding of the potential opportunities for materials which are hard to recycle via mechanical recycling.


Other resources