Spiral vs. circular recycling

When discussing recycling in food packaging, we need to distinguish between two different recycling approaches: Circular recycling and Spiral recycling. In a circular recycling system, packaging is made from recycled post-consumer content and is fully recyclable into new products of the same quality.

In contrast, spiral recycling refers to a model where a product is downcycled into a new product, and thus leaves the circular circle. 100% virgin material is typically required when creating applications for direct food contact. This means that food packaging products that are not designed for circular recycling will be downcycled into non-food applications.

In food packaging, food grade products are downcycled into non-food applications. To create applications for direct food contact would typically require 100% virgin material.

Why it matters

Reusing food packaging material in a closed loop is undoubtedly the way forward. It reduces the CO2 footprint and decouples the raw material from the consumption of finite resources – creating a better future for our planet.

Today, Cirrec processes the equivalent of 1.2 billion food trays annually. This roughly equals the entire Dutch market of sorted PET household waste from food packaging – or the entire Scandinavian market of sorted PET pots, tubs, and trays.

"Where others see waste, we see a valuable resource - and we’re committed to keeping that resource in the loop and out of the environment."

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