In this article we’re going to look into some terms coming our way, for food and packaging manufacturing. As we head into the war on plastic, the plastic circular economy is term that’s going to be new to us. We need to learn about this, but before we do, let’s look at a linear process that we already know…

The linear process…

This is where, during the production of plastic, materials go into the process, they are manufactured into plastic, then into packaging.  The manufacturing process can create waste and also, once the packaging is used, this also creates waste. So, it looks something like this:

plastic circular economy

Plastic circular economy…

So, we can see that the linear process creates quite a lot of waste, that isn’t used.  This is where the theory of a plastic circular economy comes in, for plastic. Here, we ensure that the waste routes, as much as is practically possible, are used and put back into the process.  Hence, creating a circular process and minimising the amount of waste. So, instead (in the ideal world) it looks like this:

Of course, the ideal world depicted above, may be some way off yet – but this is the challenge we face and what many companies are currently busy working their way toward.

plastic circular economy


Not all plastic is the same and so, it’s important that it’s recycled into the right waste streams for further processing. There are icons on plastics which can help you to determine what the material is, these are shown below…

plastic circular economy

polyethylene terephthalate

plastic circular economy

high-density polyethylene

plastic circular economy

polyvinyl chloride

plastic circular economy

low density polyethylene

plastic circular economy


plastic circular economy


plastic circular economy

Other types of plastic

Closed loop…

This is another term that means, where plastic or waste is recycled into the same material.  For example; a closed loop of HDPE film, would mean that the film is recycled into more HDPE film.

Open loop…

This is where waste or recycled plastic is used to create something else.  For example, plastic bottles being used to make park benches.

If you are a plastic manufacturer, we’d love you to add to this post with any information that you think will help other readers.  We’re also keen to connect those that make packaging with food manufacturers, so if your company is working on any innovative solutions to the plastic problem, we’d love to hear from you.  Please drop me an email at

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