The new UK Plastics Pact guidance outlines the UK’s vision for best-in-class polymer choices in packaging for household goods, setting out which plastics are currently considered recyclable.
For the purposes of this report, WRAP utilised the definition of recyclability developed by the The Ellen MacArthur Foundation as a guide when consulting with key industry stakeholders, to assess and recommend the best rigid plastic packaging materials to use:
‘A packaging or a packaging component is recyclable if post-consumer collection, sorting, and recycling is proven to work in practise and at scale… A package can be considered recyclable if its main packaging components, together representing more than 95% of the entire packaging weight, are recyclable according to the above definition, and if the remaining minor components are compatible with the recycling process and do not hinder the recyclability of the main components…’
The resulting classifications of what is deemed to be recyclable will help companies to meet and measure the key Plastics Pact target of ‘100% of plastic packaging to be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025’.
Making it easy for packaging designers
The 14-page report covers rigid household plastic packaging including:
- Milk bottles
- Bottles (food and drink)
- Bottles (non-food or drink)
- Pots, tubs and trays (food and drink)
- Pots, tubs trays (non-food or drink)
Guidance on films and flexibles is expected at a later date. The report makes it very easy for packaging designers and brands to determine which plastic types they should be favoring, such as PP, HDPE and PET and which they should be avoiding, including styrenes, PVC and multi-layered plastics.
When looking at each use of plastic in turn, for example bottles, tubs or trays, the overwhelming advice is to use clear or uncoloured plastic to ensure maximum recyclability, particularly for PET as it ‘provides the greatest opportunity to be recycled into packaging, as well as other products.’
Advice is also given regarding the recommended on-pack messaging for each material, with a link to the latest guidance from OPRL which is also under review. For example, on-pack messaging for food and drink bottles should say:
- Cap on
Clear and unambiguous
Anna Ford, client data analyst and UK Plastics Pact specialist at Ecosurety commented “Our members are increasingly asking us which materials they should be phasing out in their packaging and which they should be favoring. This report is critical in the sense that it makes those choices very clear and unambiguous."
"The fact it is available for the whole industry will help to ensure the objectives and achievements of the Plastics Pact reach far beyond those companies signed up to it, indeed we recommend all packaging producers to follow this new guidance.”
Commenting on the guidelines in Let’s Recycle, WRAP UK director Peter Maddox said “This new guidance is a significant milestone in our journey towards reaching that target. Businesses that specify, design and produce plastic packaging will be able to draw on this resource for best practise guidance in selecting plastic polymers which are recyclable, while retaining the important protective properties that packaging has."
"By rationalising the number of polymers used in packaging, we can develop a more efficient recycling system, and reduce confusion for citizens.”
Our team can assist UK Plastics Pact members through data analysis services and industry insights. Please contact us to find our more.
Marketing projects specialist
Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.