CPGs join in circular packaging initiative

Keurig Dr Pepper and Danone are among the companies looking to source reusable packaging consumers have been looking for.

Five Québec-based companies are doing their part to help reduce the impact of plastic packaging on the environment by establishing a circular economy.

In partnership with the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), Danone Canada, Keurig Dr Pepper Canada and packaging maker Dyne-a-pak are among the five partners that have formed The Circular Plastics Taskforce (Groupe d’action plastiques circulaires, or GAPC) to promote sustainability through plastic packaging by addressing the needs at every part of the supply chain.

Scheduled to start in October, the Québec-based food, beverage and packaging sector companies – which also include sustainable packager Cascades and flexible packaging manufacturer TC Transcontinental – will be provided $475,000 over two years by Environment and Climate Change Canada towards funding the project, with Éco Entreprises Québec on board as financial partner and consultant.

Also taking part to identify and recommend plastic handling optimization through the recycling value chain are environmental science partners Centre de transfert technologique en écologie industrielle (CTTEI) at the Sorel-Tracy CÉGEP and Chamard Stratégies environnementales, sporting the mandate of aligning market needs and recycling stakeholders.

“The concept was putting our forces together to create enough new demand for recycled materials, and work with the industry to find ways to ensure that materials coming out from the recycling facilities are exactly what recyclers need,” explains Cynthia Shanks, director of communications and sustainability at Keurig Dr Pepper Canada.

Pascal Lachance, senior manager of sustainability and environment at Danone Canada, also says the taskforce is also hoping to make it easier to source quality material.

“There are a few plastic packaging challenges that we are facing,” he states.  “We want the best packaging practices and access to quality packaging at the end of the recycling stream. This is hard to find right now, so we that thought it would be good to work with the recycling industry to find new solutions for better access to clean and quality-recycled resin.”

Both Shanks and Lachance says the biggest challenge facing their respective companies are finding food-grade quality plastics that can be reused.

The taskforce projects will be held in three phases, with the first phase targeted for completion in October. Phase one is a study in Québec to fully understand the system and identify solutions that allow us more of a circular plastic economy in Canada. Phase two will include a list of measures to implement that will allow for these solutions to be put in into place, and phase three will involve replicating the methodology and initiative elsewhere in Canada.

“Many organizations have come to us and would like to participate in other provinces,” says Shanks. “It’s very exciting to see what we can all do to change things for the better.”

An alternative to the traditional linear economy, the circular economy extracts maximum value from resources while in use, recovering and regenerating products and materials at the conclusion of each service life.

Shanks says it’s a philosophy companies are pursuing, despite prohibitive costs, as it has been in high demand from consumers that have been demanding environmental improvement efforts from brands.

“We’re doing this because we have to embark on this circular economy movement,” she says. “It’s something that we believe in and we really want to be part of this initial movement to push forward and make it happen.”