Circular economy in action: Recycling food packaging into school desks

Food packaging plays an important role in preventing food waste, keeping our food fresh longer on supermarket shelves and protecting it from production to consumption. Multilayer plastic packaging has proved to be among the most effective forms of packaging when it comes to shelf life extension and food waste prevention. However, so far this type of packaging has also been the most technically challenging to recycle.

A multipartner initiative known as the Virtuous Circle project in South Africa, took on the challenge of addressing the recycling of multilayer plastic packaging while tackling the broader societal objectives around education and childhood nutrition.

At the heart of the Virtuous Circle project were innovative multilayer food packaging pouches designed to preserve both food and water over long periods. These were distributed to schoolchildren as nutritious morning meals. They were then collected at schools to be recycled into raw materials for the production of school desks, so the children could see the circular economy in action with their own eyes.

Associated SDG targets

SDG Goal 02 Zero Hunger
UN SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

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SDG 12-ResponsibleConsumptionAndProduction