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Unilever and Nestle collaborate to improve the recyclability of their packaging.

Unilever and Nestle are part of a collaborative project that aims to improve the recyclability of 'flexible packaging' like sweet and crisp wrappers.

The two-year REFLEX project, funded by Innovate UK, aims to create a circular economy for flexible packaging, which makes up nearly a third of consumer plastic packaging in the UK.

Today the overwhelming majority of this packaging - around 556,000 tonnes - ends up in landfill.

The goal of the campaign is to match plastic-bottle recycling rates - around 56% currently - within 10 years.

"It represents a huge challenge to current recycling routes, because seemingly 'simple' packages, such as a biscuit wrapper, may incorporate several functional layers in order to deliver heat-sealable packaging with high tear strength, good puncture resistance and minimum cost," said Roger Morton, director of Axion Consulting, one of those working on the project.

The new Reflex campaign will investigate new base-materials, new designs and a new automated sorting technique. Unilever and Nestle will also take a lead by disseminating industry-wide guidelines for recyclable packaging. Unilever has recently been active in searching for new ways to recycle packaging, entering a formal alliance with the innovation centre at Northumbria University.

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