Creating a Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging Film

Creating a new circular economy

Flexible packaging films are found throughout the food and agriculture supply chain — from bread bags and zip-top pouches to single use shopping bags, hay bales and the pallet wrap that is used when products are shipped and stored.

These plastic films are typically made of virgin material, used once and then discarded. MBOLD is pioneering development of a circular economy for this type of plastic to reduce its environmental impact, curtail waste and give these materials a new life.

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Why it matters

The use of flexible packaging film is expanding rapidly. This material is pervasive in the food and agriculture sectors and used widely across many other sectors of our economy as well. The U.S. economy uses about 12 billion pounds of it per year.

However, in the U.S., only 4% of this material gets recycled. That means virgin materials are used to make more flexible films, and after a single use, the packaging is all too often discarded, ending up in landfills or littering the environment.

MBOLD CEO Champion – Dimitrios Smyrnios, CEO of Schwan’s Company

What MBOLD is doing

MBOLD is exploring opportunities to create a circular economy for flexible film packaging — specifically polyethylene film — starting in the Upper Midwest. One of the biggest hurdles is developing products that can be manufactured from the recycled film and sold profitably. Without those markets, recyclers don’t have an economically compelling reason to collect and recycle this material, no matter how much of it is available.

For that reason, MBOLD is exploring potential uses for the material and evaluating how our members, potentially in conjunction with others, could help build the market demand needed to make a circular economy hum.

During the 2020 Bold Open reverse pitch, we invited innovators around the world to reach out to us about potential uses for recycled polyethylene film and to collaborate as strategic thinking partners on development of a circular economy. Check out our Bold Open challenge video below.

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