Last week at Global Pouch Forum 2024, Jake Branyon, Associate Director of R&D, Sonoco, discussed the company’s unique approach to packaging sustainability when it comes to its EnviroFlex® Paper. Per Sonoco’s website, EnviroFlex Paper is a “portfolio of solutions designed to be curbside recyclable in the paper stream.” The high barrier paper is ideal for various flexible packaging applications like pouches, sachets and pillow bags. 

During the presentation, Branyon walked attendees through Sonoco’s journey to ensuring that EnviroFlex Paper was curbside recyclable, and the sustainability advantages paper presents over other plastic-based materials. 

“Flexible packaging has recycling issues, but paper has a great recycling rate because consumers intuitively know what to do with it,” explained Branyon. 

Branyon outlined four key elements of packaging recyclability: collection/access, sortation, processing and end market. Using those as a guide, Sonoco employed a unique reverse process where it started with recycled paper and set out to verify its recyclability and usefulness by working backwards. Through this method, Sonoco verified that EnviroFlex Paper had superior barrier qualities, was compatible with various printing styles and, most importantly, was easily sortable into correct recycling streams. 

“If the consumers and CPGs do everything they’re supposed to do, but all it does is end up in a landfill at the end of the day, have we really accomplished anything?” remarked Branyon. “[With Sonoco’s process], this has really proved that it will go to where we expect it to.”

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