The Flexible Packaging Association makes the case for smart use of plastic packages

The CPA, the Association for Contract Packagers and Manufacturers, held their annual meeting in February in Austin, Texas, and one of the featured speakers was Alison Keane, the president of the FPA (Flexible Packaging Association). She shared how the organization is working to help create smarter legislation around plastic packaging.

An article on the Packaging World website details the salient points she made in her presentation to the group. She emphasized that consumer concern around plastic pollution has resulted in aggressive anti-plastic legislation that can be counter-productive in the long run. She explained that it is important that state and federal legislation must be based in science and not simply a reaction to public pressure. “Over 70 percent of the materials our members use are resin and film,” she says in the article. “And this goes to why the anti-plastic sentiment is so important to us right now.”

Since Keane took over the role of president, FPA’s mission has grown to include promoting and protecting the flexible packaging industry through advocacy, especially at the state level. “Right now, I think it’s one of the most important things we need in the packaging industry, as we’re really under fire,” Keane said.

As part of its advocacy, the FPA is encouraging education. One key concept the FPA wants to convey is that flexibles are not single-use packaging. “That’s really important, because that package has not only protected your product from processing to the retail shelf or to e-commerce, but it’s also protected it in your home, providing a longer shelf life and freshness while it’s in your refrigerator,” said Keane. “Not all packaging is created equal, and recyclability should not be the only litmus test for sustainability,” she added.

To educate consumers and legislators on the environmentally beneficial aspects of flexible packaging, FPA has published a series of free case studies that compare different package types against flexible pouches in six industries: coffee, baby food, cat litter, motor oil, liquid laundry detergent packs, and single-serve juice beverages.

In the article, Keane emphasizes that the organization is committed to providing facts and figures that are easy to understand, because protecting the environment can be an emotional issue for both legislators and the general public.

The FPA is also working to improve end-of-life options for flexibles by forming partnerships to collect flexible materials and by pushing for investment in alternate methods of recycling. One initiative it is participating in is the Materials Recovery for the Future project (MRFF), which is working to tweak the current mechanical recycling infrastructure so that when flexibles enter the stream, they can be separated from PET, paper, and cans so they don’t contaminate the recycling stream.

Keane struck a positive note in her talk to the CPA gathering. The article states that she encouraged them not to be disheartened, but instead to look at all the positive developments and innovations that are resulting from these efforts. “What we need from policymakers is time,” she is quoted as saying. “We need to make sure they understand why so many consumer product companies have gone to flexibles, both from an environmental standpoint and also from a food health and safety standpoint. We need to generate discussion throughout the entire supply chain.”

Read the whole article and learn more about the FPA’s efforts to promote responsible plastics use here.

AMGRAPH’s primary mission is sustainability. We believe in promoting environmentally responsible packaging, and that’s why we are enthusiastic supporters of flexible materials, including the latest innovations in plastics. Still skeptical about how plastics can be a green solution? Would you like to learn more? Contact us today! We’ll show you the science, and we’ll help you design packaging that is attractive to your customers, that protects your products, AND that supports your green business goals.