New recyclability certification scheme

As confusion over recyclable packaging design grow, OPRL is launching a new UK Certification scheme – Certified As Recyclable – to provide thoroughly evaluated and tested recyclability assessments. It is initially available for rigid and flexible plastic packaging.
(Source: OPRL)

In partnership with RECOUP, the scheme will be extended across all packaging materials and will align with OPRL’s Labelling Rules and PREP self-evaluation assessments.

Launched as part of the not-for-profit’s contribution to Recycle Week, the new Certified As Recyclable scheme is available exclusively to OPRL members and supports them in ensuring they deliver against UK Plastics Pact and other sustainability commitments. Certification will provide assurance that the packaging type and materials are collected in the UK for recycling, are effectively sorted for recycling at UK MRFs and PRFs, and the materials recycled by reprocessors with an effective market for the resulting recyclate. Assessments will be made against the evidence base underpinning OPRL’s Recycling Labelling Scheme, their PREP UK online self-evaluation tool with new tests at MRFs and PRFs where new evidence is needed. These technical assessments will be undertaken by RECOUP.

Jane Bevis, Chair of OPRL said: “For some time now we’ve been concerned about the level of greenwash and overclaiming evident in the packaging market. It’s really tough for any but the most practised packaging technologist to keep up with the latest coatings, pigments, bonding and material combinations and their impact on recyclability. So we’re delighted to be able to bring clarity and robust analysis to bear with Certified As Recyclable, enabling buyers and specifiers to ensure they are sourcing the right packaging to deliver their sustainability commitments.”

Margaret Bates, Executive Director, added: “Recyclability is all about getting the specification and design right in the first place, matching it to the UK’s recycling infrastructure. Certified As Recyclable is unique in providing evidence that that has been achieved for both rigid and flexible plastic packaging. It delivers the transparency and accountability many stakeholders are now calling for, and we’re delighted that our guarantor and colleagues at RECOUP are partnering with us to deliver a truly robust assessment, including new ‘real world’ testing at MRFs where evidence is currently lacking.”

Commenting on the partnership Stuart Foster, CEO of RECOUP said: “We’re delighted that our ongoing close partnership with OPRL has led to this first phase of their Certified As Recyclable scheme, which complements our wider work in this area. As well drawing on our technical expertise and knowledge we’ll be undertaking on-site testing at MRFs and PRFs, expanding the knowledge base of what works within UK infrastructure – and in the process identifying barriers to increasing effective recycling of plastics. It’s a great example of a collaboration between two leading recycling organisations that will bring major benefits to drive up recycling and drive out bad design.”

OPRL’s Certified As Recyclable scheme launches as part of Recycle Week 2020 and is available immediately for rigid and flexible plastic packaging ranges. Further materials will be added as part of a phased roll out. Once certified as recyclable the packaging can be marketed using the scheme marque and businesses buying the packaging can use the certificate details as part of their internal audit trail on the recyclability of their plastic packaging. They can also be certain that the OPRL ‘Recycle’ or Specialist recycling label can be used on packaging to prompt consumer action, streamlining assessment processes.

Certified As Recyclable is available exclusively to OPRL members via OPRL Limited. A key point of difference of this scheme is that certification can be applied to an individual packaging component, enabling innovation and helping new packaging ideas and technologies to come to market to deliver improved recyclability.

The certificate can be applied to a single packaging design or closely related packaging range and is valid for 3 years, after which re-assessment is required against the then prevailing infrastructure capacity.

OPRL’s Labelling Rules determine the recyclability of packaging for labelling purposes only and are used by members to ensure they communicate the right recycling information to consumers. However, the Labelling Scheme is not designed to certify or validate recyclability and as a self-evaluated scheme does not have third party assurance on the way it is being applied.

Margaret Bates, Executive Director, warned “While we audit members’ on-pack labelling to ensure the public is being given the right recycling information, the presence of an OPRL label does not provide OPRL endorsement of the recyclability of that packaging. We will require any marketing or PR claim about the recyclability of packaging made on the basis of membership of the OPRL scheme or the application of a Recycle label on-pack to be withdrawn immediately and a proper certification assessment undertaken before any claims are made.”

New evidence generated during assessments will be used to update OPRL’s Labelling Rules and further enhance OPRL’s PREP UK online recyclability self-evaluation tool, ensuring full alignment.


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