Other Flexible Plastic Packaging Research and Development

Hand holding zipper lock pouch labeled granolaRecycle BC has been collecting a new type of material, Other Flexible Plastic Packaging (OFPP), at all our depot locations since January 2019, as part of a research and development (R&D) project. Our key objective is to determine how we can best manage this material to recycle some, if not all, of this type of complex plastic packaging.

Our goal in 2019 – 2020 was to collect enough clean, sorted OFPP to allow our R&D partner, Merlin Plastics, to conduct test runs. Since we began developing our R&D project in 2017, Merlin Plastics has undertaken significant research into the variety of OFPP materials we collect, and the advanced recycling equipment required to successfully reclaim recyclable plastics out of this challenging packaging material.

In 2020, with sufficient quantity amassed, Merlin Plastics began full scale testing of its new process and equipment investment using Recycle BC’s collected OFPP material. This initial work produced some good learnings. Merlin Plastics is committed to continuing this R&D effort and will be moving forward with further test runs, building on their experience to date.

Throughout this R&D, Recycle BC continues to collect OFPP, diverting it from landfill to recover it into engineered fuel, an engineered energy product that is a direct replacement for traditional non-renewable resources, such as coal, in industrial settings.

As well, brand owners are reviewing their packaging options as exciting innovations in recyclability come onto the market. One such example is mono-material pouches made from 100% polyethylene (PE), which removes the complex multi-material layers of traditional pouches for a fully recyclable package.

We are also excited to share that Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance, which supports the Recycle BC program, as well as our R&D Partner Merlin Plastics, are both founding members of the recently launched Canada Plastics Pact (CPP). This important initiative will enable vital knowledge sharing and coordinated action in the local plastics value chain to tackle plastic packaging waste and pollution. The CPP is working toward four clear, actionable targets by 2025, with a focus on plastics packaging:

  • Define a list of plastic packaging that is to be designated as problematic or unnecessary and take measures to eliminate them by 2025
  • Support efforts towards 100% of plastic packaging being designed to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025
  • Undertake ambitious actions to ensure that at least 50% of plastic packaging is effectively recycled or composted by 2025
  • Ensure an average of at least 30% recycled content across all plastic packaging (by weight) by 2025

More information is available here.

Recycle BC is proud to be part of the plastic solution in BC and thanks all residents for helping us collect clean and sorted OFPP through our depot network. By doing this, we are keeping it out of landfill, enabling groundbreaking research by our partner, Merlin Plastics, and supporting recycling innovation in the province.