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What is a Circular Economy? Packaging in the round


 minute read

What is a Circular Economy?

Unlike the linear take, make, dispose model, a circular economy produces & consumes in a resource-efficient way and turns waste in to a resource. Products are designed to last longer, and at end of life easier to repair, upcycle or recycle. The aim is Zero Waste.

Why a Circular Economy?

Europe produces 2.5b tonnes waste a year, and globally c. only 8.6% of 100b tonnes are recycled.

This presents an economic & environmental opportunity. Financially, Accenture estimate a European circular model could unlock £4 trillion by ’30. Environmentally, turning waste in to value is more efficient than processing raw materials. The scale of the problem/ solution is reflected by The Plastic Treaty where 175 countries enter a legal binding agreement. See more in our Blog. FGP find this particularly pertinent because disposable packaging counts for c. 40% of plastic manufacturing.

How can packaging support a Circular Economy?

Green packaging considers its carbon & environmental impact in the round - its lifecycle from cradle to cradle. Like the diagram illustrates, products can be designed in harmony with current or upcoming recycling infrastructure so it’s 1) recyclable and 2) easier to recycle, like mono materials. Design also considers reducing material and changing materials such as recycled content, stronger materials for longer use or Bio Plastics made from corn or sugar cane. Bio plastics (explained in our Biodebatable Blog) if done holistically could be part of the solution, like using the food waste and saw dust from food production.

Bio plastics’ success also needs to consider their end of life. With no or rare Bio Plastic recycling and composting collections, they only add to the waste mountain. Worse, they pollute the wrong collection, so stopping other materials being recycled.

Equally, while Production & Recycling technologies develop, we all need to do to our bit. Obviously not littering is a given, but ensuring the right material finds the right collection.

How do Forever Green Packaging help customers and a Circular Economy?

Our Consultancy service offers a holistic and ‘whatever is right for you & the environment’ approach. This involves assessing where your packaging comes from, how it’s processed and how it ends up. You’ll then be presented improvement changes which consider their impact in the round. See Consult for more…

Our Shop products have been carefully tested and selected for their contribution to a circular economy. The paper products are easily recycled and less dangerous to the environment. But our plastic products, air cushion packaging, is either made from Recyclable 50% Recycled Content or Compostable Bio-based Content. Both have their obvious advantages at the Production stage. The Disposal stage is made easier by our complementary Free Waste Return service. This ensures the recycled content plastic 100% gets recycled and Bio-Plastics 100% get industrially composted.

What’s the future of a Circular Economy?

Its future and success depend on both technological and behaviour changes. This is a complex dynamic between government & legislation, business practises and consumer behaviour.

20 businesses create ½ of the world’s single-use plastic, so huge potential here alone. Surveys suggest 62% of shoppers prefer sustainable packaging. This consumer demand and new legislation like the plastics tax and Plastic Treaty bode well.  

Academic research shows tackling plastic, bio-diversity preservation and climate change go together. Recycled plastic packaging will become the default over virgin plastic. In turn, collection & recycling facilities will be more obvious, easier to reach and yield higher %’s of recycling. As the world aims for net-zero, circularity provides a means for governments to cut emissions, reach their Paris Agreement targets and build more inclusive and resilient economies.

Final Thought

ReLondon’s chief executive Wayne Hubbard

“It’s empowering to citizens… that they can bring benefits to the fight against the climate emergency by sharing, repairing, renting and reusing,” he said. “You can’t flick a switch and have these [consumption-based] emissions be gone. You need systemic and behavioural change.”

Culture change should follow when it’s convenient, makes people feel good and makes economic sense. With government support scaling up the repair, reuse, recycling and remanufacturing sectors, the UK could create almost half a million new jobs by 2035. That is the headline conclusion of a new report from thinktank Green Alliance. Great initiatives are underway, such as An Alliance of global manufacturers, retailers and chemical firms which has unveiled a new $500m “circular plastic” fund aimed at supporting collection, recycling and design solutions for plastics.

Right now though, Forever Green are here to offer impartial advice and qualified products, which support our journey to a circular economy and a better world.


How the circular economy can help combat climate change | World Economic Forum(

A circular economy for plastics is a crucial step towards a circular world - edie

Shoppers want sustainable packaging; businesses must act - edie

Dowon the need for a careful approach to bio-based plastics to drive circularity   - edie

A circular economy for plastics is a crucial step towards a circular world - edie

In numbers: How much waste is produced in the UK – and how much is recycled? -edie

How can we accelerate the circular economy transition? Here are 5 top tips - edie

Alliance to End Plastic Waste launches $500m ‘circular plastics’ fund - edie


Tom Elgood

Forever Green Owner

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