Blog | 10/30/2020 11:15:37 | 3 min Read time

Circular economy needs partnerships to increase the use of recycled packaging materials

Pascal Oliveira

Director, Global Business Development, Food, UPM Raflatac

When lockdown started, I was momentarily concerned that sustainability issues might take side-stage. I needn’t have worried. It seems like many companies and consumers have a new-found appreciation for finding solutions that will help preserve scarce natural resources, reduce plastic pollution, and ultimately help restore our planet’s health.

Many retailers have made bold promises to significantly increase recycled content, which is a highly promising step. Research shows that consumers also care more and more about sustainability in food packaging. A very interesting fraction of consumers are even already willing to pay more for sustainably packaged goods.

What the packaging industry needs now is strong partnerships across value chains to enable a major shift towards a circular economy.

Companies must run in the same direction

There is a lot of public pressure driving circular economy. The EU’s Green Deal, the European plastic pact, and extended producer responsibility (EPR) initiatives around the world are all encouraging us to collaborate in building a more sustainable future.

We all need to open our minds to the possibilities of circular economy, both as professionals in the workplace and as consumers in our everyday lives.

In the food packaging industry, large players especially are in a position to move the needle toward circularity through active partnerships across the value chain. Collaboration shortens the time-to-market of circular innovations and ensures that companies are working toward a common goal, instead of running in different directions.

Brands benefit from sustainable packaging

Collaboration across the value chain has to start with a unified front from individual companies. To be able to achieve that, sustainability must be embedded in all roles throughout the companies, with a mandate from top management.

Every time that players throughout the value chain come together, we take another step towards a more circular economy. One example I am proud of is RafCycle by UPM Raflatac service. Through RafCycle, we collect label release liner waste from brand owners and packers for recycling. Take for instance paper liner waste: we de-siliconize the material and use it in producing recycled pulp, that is used for example in our recycled paper liners creating a closed loop solution.

No brand is an island – and I for one cannot think of a single brand that would not benefit from more sustainable packaging.

Together, we will move faster

It seems to me that many companies have realised that a circular economy is the only viable route. We all know that recycled packaging materials help reduce pressure on natural resources. There already are numerous solutions intended for food packaging including recycled material like PP C-PCR with recycled content from chemically recycled post-consumer plastic waste. Working together, we can create even more great innovations.


We want to hear about your individual pain points and work together to find future-proof, sustainable packaging solutions made from recycled packaging materials that will support your brand.

Learn more about our recycled label materials 



Pascal Oliveira

Pascal Oliveira

Director, Global Business Development, Food, UPM Raflatac | “It is not only about what contribution we make as a business, but also as individuals.”
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