UK Plastics Pact launches rigid plastic packaging recyclability guidelines

OPRL hails the UK Plastics Pact new guidance on the recyclability of rigid plastic packaging as a further vital step driving sustainable packaging and making it easy for consumers to recycle.

Today’s launch of these comprehensive guidelines, setting out which polymers can no longer be considered recyclable and which are the best-in-class polymer choices for different types of rigid plastic packaging, means everyone placing packaging on the UK market has a common basis for design decisions. As highlighted in last week’s announcement on OPRL’s Labelling Rules Review, these guidelines will be one of the evidence bases underpinning OPRL’s 2019 revisions. In January 2017 the labelling not-for-profit signalled its 2019 rules would take account of sortation processes at MRFs and likelihood of reprocessing into recyclate.

Commenting on the release of the Pact’s guidance Jane Bevis, Chair of OPRL said: “The public find plastics confusing and, with widespread concerns over irresponsible disposal and environmental pollution by plastic packaging, are increasingly condemning all plastic packaging as intolerable. But plastic packaging has a key role in protecting our environment too – well-chosen polymers used in well-designed packaging are vital to reducing food waste and the resulting methane and other greenhouse gas emissions. So this hugely welcome guidance from the Plastics Pact is crucial in promoting a paradigm shift in packaging design, both food and non-food.”

“As well as incorporating this evidence base into our Labelling Rules, we will adopt its findings as key parameters in our PREP tool, the only ISO 14021-compliant multi-material assessment tool on the UK market enabling recyclability claims to be made on a common basis. By shifting design choices into a narrower range of recyclable polymers we not only reduce confusion for consumers, but ease sortation at MRFs and reprocessors, and create the markets for recyclate once consumers have done their bit within the circular economy. That’s Win, Win, Win!”

The Pact’s guidance also gives clear advice on the need for OPRL labelling and the preferred OPRL Calls to Action to be selected to enhance recycling capture and quality. These include added tips for the consumer such as ‘Cap On’, ‘Rinse’ and ‘Flatten’ and were introduced in January 2017 in response to WRAP’s research into barriers to recycling. OPRL is a founding member and delivery partner of the Plastics Pact.


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