Chile’s First EPR Forum: CMPC Biopackaging is presented as a benchmark company in sustainable packaging

Chile’s 2023 EPR Forum was held in the Metropolitan Region with the motto “a meeting point for recycling and the circular economy”. The convention of international exhibitors, authorities and senior executives aimed to generate universal synergy for proper implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility and Recycling (EPR) Law.

CMPC Corrugated Biopackaging Innovation Manager Felipe Morales participated in one of the panels, during which he spoke about the company’s progress and future innovations in eco-friendly packaging.

The Extended Producer Responsibility Law (EPR Law) was enacted in 2016, with the aim of making producers responsible for handling waste that stems from the sale of products determined to be a priority for the domestic market. It was only in January of this year that the implementation of the EPR Law began. The official decree selected vehicle tires to be the priority product for recovery and revaluation. In the same vein, in October, another decree was issued regarding new targets for containers and packaging.

It is under this scenario that the first EPR Chile 2023 Forum was held, a meeting that was organized by País Circular to “generate synergy between all sectors for properly implementing the EPR Law”.  Thus, the three-day event, in which 10 panels were held, brought together more than 50 speakers from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia, including the international EPR consultant, former CEO of Ecoembes (NGO in charge of the recycling and eco-design of light domestic packaging in Spain) and former President of EXPRA (Extended Producer Responsibility Alliance; a group of 32 organizations for recovering and recycling packaging and related waste from 30 countries), Óscar Martín, who spoke about the 30 years of implementation of this measure in Europe.

Erika León also attended. She’s the Commercial Manager of Sorepa, a subsidiary of CMPC Companies that has been in charge of the recovery, handling and disposal of paper and cardboard since 1979. With three decades of experience at the company, she said, “CMPC’s economy stopped being linear a long time ago. We’ve been operating with a circular economy for more than 40 years, recovering paper and cardboard to manufacture new packaging. We feel very well prepared to adhere to the EPR Law, because we feel that we are at an advantage over other waste types.” 

“However, this legislation promotes the recovery of what comes from households, because in all these years CMPC has focused on industrial waste. The home was very distant from what we could do as a company, which is why a law and the State were needed,” added Sorepa’s Commercial Manager. 

Innovation Manager at CMPC Corrugated Biopackaging Felipe Morales participated in the panel called “A new era in containers and packaging: Innovation, reuse and new materials”. He said that his department has taken the lead and continues to innovate in the field. “Our sustainability chain for recovering material is based on two mechanisms: pre-consumption, which are the waste and cast-offs of our raw material that can be generated within our plants and that we recover to incorporate it back into production and regenerate paper and cardboard; and post-consumption, which is what has already entered the market and been used that we later recover to reincorporate into our biopackaging processes,” explained the manager.

The products that are already part of the company’s Biopackaging include Boxboard, cardboard boxes made of cellulose and virgin radiata pine fiber, which provide a product that has an optimal weight-to-rigidity ratio; Sack Kraft paper, which is made from 100% virgin fiber obtained from renewable forest plantations of Radiata pine, which gives it high strength to produce packaging for building materials, food and agricultural products, and chemicals and minerals; and corrugated products, including corrugated papers, construction papers, corners, and corrugated cardboard and molded pulp packaging solutions that fit the intrinsic characteristics of each business.

In terms of innovation, Morales said that one of the projects CMPC is working on is the recovery of alternative fibers for producing packaging. To this end, the company’s Forestry and Pulp areas are exploring how to reintegrate the fibers from these departments. Likewise, CMPC Biopackaging is looking for partnerships along with domestic and international startups to generate mechanisms for recovering fibers from other industrial processes, such as textiles and agriculture. 

As for the challenges and future projects that CMPC has proposed in line with the EPR Law, there is the development of new sustainable packaging products and generating new lines of business in areas where they are not yet participating. “All of our innovation projects are designed not only to continue producing our sustainable packaging, but also to replace other types of single-use packaging with our materials based on natural fibers in order to generate new solutions that meet market demands and adapt to current consumer trends,” explained the Innovation Manager of CMPC Biopackaging – Corrugated.

It should be noted that this first EPR Forum comprehensively addressed the scope of the EPR Law through panels that covered waste management and its recovery, systems for its handling, the textile industry and its reinvention, selective collection and pre-treatment of waste, trends and new technologies for waste management and recovery, the debate on technological and electronic waste, new faces and forms of plastic, the opportunities that are opening up for the automotive industry and, at the level of corporate governance, tenders and free competition within the framework of the EPR Law.