4evergreen is an alliance of 100 manufacturers, designers, brand owners, researchers and recyclers who want to contribute to a climate neutral society by perfecting the circularity and sustainability of fibre-based packaging. The goal is to reach a 90% recycling rate for fibre-based packaging by 2030.

Fibre-based packaging – from paper cups to cardboard boxes – represents about 38% of all packaging on the market in Europe.

The variety of fibre-based packaging on the market is growing. The alliance pays particular attention to packaging types with a lower circularity performance today: those used for household, out-of-home and on-the-go consumption.

Innovation is at the heart of our alliance. We are working together to accelerate the development of new technologies to tackle sorting and recycling challenges.

4evergreen has identified four targets to meet by 2025, on our journey towards a 90% recycling rate by 2030:

That the fibre-based industry recognises and uses 4evergreen’s recyclability evaluation protocol and its circularity by design guidelines;

That separate collection streams are available for all fibre-based packaging types, including those used in household, out-of-home and on-the-go consumption;

That all paper for recycling is sorted according to the paper and board categories specified in the EN643 standard;

That 100% of collected fibre-based packaging is recycled.

How we operate

4evergreen alliance members collaborate through four technical workstreams that develop tools and guidance for different aspects of fibre-based packaging sustainability and circularity. An information workstream focuses on sharing the results with relevant audiences and tracking policy developments, while the alliance’s Steering Group sets the strategy.

WS-1: recyclability evaluation protocol

This workstream is developing a harmonised, publicly available Recyclability Evaluation Protocol for fibre-based packaging. The protocol builds on the Confederation of European Paper Industries (Cepi) harmonised European laboratory test method, and will give the industry a common tool to evaluate how recyclable current and future packaging materials are.

A beta release of the first version of this protocol, for measuring recyclability in standard mills, was made available in December 2022. Future versions will include improvements based on industry feedback, and will expand the tool to include recyclability in deinking and specialised recycling facilities. These are expected in the course of 2023.

Results from the protocol’s use will provide comparable insights on recyclability that can feed into guidelines being developed in other workstreams of the alliance.

WS-2: "circularity by design" guidelines

Alliance experts are working on guidelines to  ensure any new fibre-based packaging is designed with circularity in mind, right from the start. The guidelines provide recommendations for designing packaging and materials that are easy to collect, sort, and recycle.

Part one of the Circularity by Design Guideline was published in March 2022 and provides recommendations for recycling packaging in standard mills.

Workstream members are currently updating the guidelines with recommendations relevant for de-inking and specialised mills. The new versions will be released around spring 2023.

WS-3: guidelines for collection and sorting

Building on a Europe-wide review, this workstream has identified collection and sorting best practices that can support the alliance’s aim to increase the fibre-based packaging recycling rate to 90% by 2030.

The Guidance On The Improved Collection And Sorting Of Fibre-Based Packaging For Recycling  was published in September 2022. It covers all fibre-based packaging types, including those for household, out-of-home and on-the-go consumption.

The guideline will be updated including the latest industry insights, especially resulting from the findings of Workstream 1.

WS-4: innovation

This workstream is focused on accelerating the development of technologies and processes that can increase the circularity of fibre-based packaging. The aim is to spur innovation across the fibre-based packaging value chain and leverage a range of novel technologies to raise fibre-based packaging's overall recycling rate.

Work is underway on three projects exploring sorting and recycling challenges for paper and board products with barrier functionality – on ‘sortability’, new recycling technologies and comparative recyclability impacts. The workstream has conducted a series of exploratory tests.

The three projects are strongly linked to each other, and their results will provide crucial input for the deliverables of the other technical workstreams.


Members meet in a regular Sponsors’ Council, which functions as the alliance’s General Assembly.

Representatives of civil society and think tanks may be invited to participate in the Advisory Group. Leaders of relevant European industry associations and leaders of relevant other initiatives may be invited to join the Industry Association Coordination Group.

Steering Group

Members of 4evergreen’s Steering Group represent all the business segments of this unique 360° alliance. It provides strategic direction to the Alliance and oversight of its activities. More specifically, it approves the creation of workstreams and monitors their progress. The Steering Group ensures the coalition makes progress towards defined targets and accomplishments.

Secretariat

4evergreen activities are coordinated by a dedicated team, responsible for the seamless management and administration of the alliance.

4evergreen is hosted at the Cepi Secretariat and managed by the 4evergreen Program Director. The Secretariat team is responsible for coordinating all internal communication, quality control for external communication, daily management and operations.

This includes managing and communicating information between members of 4evergreen and its workstreams.