Collaboration is key.

Partnerships with experts in waste management, like CIRCPACK, can move us closer to a circular economy.

The process of recycling packaging is not a one size fits all approach. Every country has its way of collecting, sorting, and processing waste that frequently changes as new policy and legislation is passed. This complex world requires collaboration throughout the entire value chain so everyone involved, including brands, knows the latest recycling guidelines and local initiatives.

Companies such as CIRCPACK by the Veolia group, a global resource management company, deal with water and waste management activities. They play an important role in educating brand owners, retailers, and packaging companies on how to increase their packaging recyclability. 

At Avery Dennison, we work closely with CIRCPACK to understand the local nuances and newest guidelines so that our R&D teams have the correct information to develop innovative, sustainable products.

Juliette Guérin, a senior consultant at CIRCPACK by Veolia, provides brands with expertise and certification on the recyclability of their packaging. She speaks to us about how she empowers brands with the tools and knowledge on recycling compatibility, the biggest recycling challenge for home and personal care (HPC) brands, and how partnerships with companies like Avery Dennison enable recyclability.

Juliette, how do you work with brand owners to advise, assess and create packaging using sustainable labels?

My main objective is to help brand owners understand what will happen to their waste after the consumer disposes of it into their recyclable bins. How will the packaging behave during collection, sorting, and reprocessing? Considering that labels are an essential part of the packaging, it is important to explain the impact they can have on the recyclability of the packaging.

We assist in several ways:

  1. When thinking about a new packaging design, we provide guidelines on which label is compatible with the recycling process depending on the body of the packaging. 

  2. We test the complete packaging in our operational sorting plant to ensure the label will not impact the packaging's Near Infra-Red (NIR) detection during sorting.  

  3. We check new prototypes of labels (for example, double perforation) and ensure that they can, for instance, be removed during collection and transport.

  4. We ensure that labels can be removed under the recycler's conditions, that inks are not bleeding, and that adhesive remains on the label (and not on the plastic flakes)

  5. We check the compatibility of the material with the other components.

How do you help brands navigate policy and regulations?

Recycling is a complex world, so we have created our country-overview study to help our customers understand the local situation of recycling packaging waste in 69 countries worldwide. The study also contains information on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and local legislation. To offer accurate information on local policy and regulations on packaging waste, we update the study continuously and tap into our network for local insights.

How do you collaborate with companies like Avery Dennison to ensure HPC brands are closing the loop on compatibility and recyclability?

It all starts with sharing knowledge in the value chain and working together. A great example of such collaboration is the value chain initiative RecyClass for plastic packaging. With RecyClass, clear guidelines and test protocols have been defined. We see that Avery Dennison uses their competence in adhesives and labels to ensure that its products align with all parties involved in the value chain. A good example is their RecyClass approved films that comply with colored HDPE recycling guidelines.

What are the most significant challenges/pain points the HPC segment has in achieving sustainable packaging?

The lack of harmonization. There are so many guidelines and local initiatives that brands can quickly get lost or confused. Even though sorting and recycling technologies are standard worldwide, each country has a different waste management system. "We need to push for clear and harmonized guidelines on EcoDesign and EPR systems." On top of that, we still see a lack of recycling infrastructure in other territories. Establishing this infrastructure should become the priority to ensure that collection and waste treatment are being organized.

How do you work with HPC brand owners to overcome these challenges?

It is all about the sharing of knowledge. In addition to our country-overview study, we work closely with brands to further educate them on how they can better design sustainable packaging. For general knowledge, we host masterclasses in recycling in which the entire packaging recycling process is explained. We also assess the recyclability of individual packaging and provide certifications. This knowledge offers excellent insights to the packaging technologist and designers on potential improvements.



What is the most important consideration when choosing the correct sustainable label for your packaging? 

Packaging must be considered as a whole, meaning we must ensure that most of the package can be recycled. Labels will typically not be recycled. Reprocessors are mainly interested in the most significant amount of the packaging -- the bottle or the container. For the label, we need to ensure that it does not harm the sorting or reprocessing of the primary packaging component. We still notice a lot of inks that bleed and non-removable adhesive on labels. Furthermore, we still see that the label size is sometimes too large to identify the packaging material underneath. Choosing the right material and supplier, combined with simple tests, will ensure that these common missteps will be prevented 

Many HPC brands have lofty targets for sustainability (i.e.: 100% sustainable packaging by 2030). What advice would you give to brands under pressure to meet these goals?

Brands need to be hyper-aware of greenwashing and stop claiming what they cannot deliver e.g., 100% recyclable. We believe it is crucial to release only valid claims. To avoid false claims, brands should consider using the RecyClass methodology to assess the recyclability of their current packaging formats. The results should be viewed as a starting point for improvements where needed.



Learn more about sustainable labels

Together with partners like CIRCPACK, we have the expertise and know-how to help brands in the HPC segment make the right sustainable label choices that move us closer to a future of circularity. Discover our “Small. Yet Significant.” guide to navigating sustainable labeling for HPC brands to learn how you can incorporate material choices, EcoDesign best practices and innovation into your packaging decisions. 


Ready to talk? Our Ecosystem Managers are experts in the home and personal care space and are here to help you solve your sustainability challenges.