The life cycle of plastic packaging and flexible packaging
The life cycle of plastic packaging or flexible packaging can be summarized as follows:
Raw materials production: various raw materials are used by plastic packaging manufacturers: virgin plastics, recycled plastics, bio-based plastics, combinations with other materials (paper, aluminium, etc.).
Raw materials used, give the packaging the necessary functionalities throughout its life cycle.
Plastic packaging manufacturing: the transformation and decoration processes used to manufacture plastic packaging are numerous: calendering, thermoforming, injection, extrusion, etc.
Packaging of products: packaging is then used to package products: food, beverages, cosmetics, detergents, ingredients, materials, etc.
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Distribution and marketing of products: packaged products follow different logistic schemes before being put on the market through various distribution channels: short circuits, large distribution, export.
Consumption or use of products: packaging continues to play a role at this stage by being adapted to the way the products are consumed or used: consumption or use at one time, in several times, etc.
Collecting and sorting packaging: once the product has been consumed or used, the packaging is collected and sorted by local authorities or manufacturers.
End of life – reuse: some plastic packaging can be reused, e.g. IBCs (Intermediate Bulk Container) or plastic boxes.
End of life – recycling: since recycling schemes were set up, plastic packaging has been recycled. This is the case, for example, for bottles and flasks made of PET, PE or PP or for polystyrene boxes.
End of life – composting: biodegradable plastic packaging can be composted at home or in industrial installations. For example, this is the case for biodegradable bags or films.
End of life – energy recovery: when plastic packaging cannot be reused or recycled, it can however be used to produce energy in energy recovery installations.