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By Earl Russell
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On-Pack Recycling Labels the clear candidate for mandatory status

OPRL, the On-Pack Recycling Label, provides simple, consistent labelling widely used by brands and retailers so their customers always get the same advice on recycling | Credit: OPRL


2 min read Partner content

Recycling is central to changing attitudes to ‘Take-Make-Waste’ and should be part of a Green Recovery. The Environment Bill contains powers to introduce mandatory recycling labelling. We’ve got the answer.

Confusion inhibits action

The biggest barrier to recycling is confusion. Most of us want to do the right thing, but two thirds say uncertainty is the main reason they don’t always recycle.

4 in 5 of us check for information on unfamiliar packaging or whenever we’re unsure. After all, we check for allergens, ingredients and where products come from.

It’s natural to look for information about the packaging too.

Our in-depth research shows without a recycling label to guide them, people make decisions based on their own values. Defaulting to “If in doubt, keep it out” leads to valuable resources going to landfill or Energy from Waste.

But automatically recycling packaging because you believe it should be recyclable means you contaminate materials that really can be recycled, reducing quality and value and increasing processing costs.

A label on every pack helps people get it right every time.

Consistency matters

Surveys repeatedly show people find recycling labels confusing.

Our research shows that, in fact, people find multiple labelling systems confusing. They want clear, recognisable information at a glance.

Most people want a quick prompt as they decide which bin to put packaging in. They don’t want to stop to think about it, they’re looking for a strong visual cue on Recycle or Don’t Recycle.

Like road signs, recycling labels need to be consistent and unequivocal – clear and actionable.

OPRL – a world-leading solution

UNEP guidance on global best practice says recycling symbols must relate to local recycling infrastructure and gives OPRL labels the highest rating available.

OPRL labels are founded on evidence that packaging is collected and successfully sorted in the UK, the materials reprocessed and used in new products or packaging. If just one of those is unlikely to happen, it’s labelled ‘Don’t Recycle’.

OPRL, the On-Pack Recycling Label, provides simple, consistent labelling widely used by brands and retailers so their customers always get the same advice on recycling.

Now 530 businesses right across the packaging supply chain, including all national supermarkets, use OPRL.

3 in 4 consumers recognise, understand and act on OPRL labels and they are used by 95 percent of the grocery’s multiple retailer market, by owners of 85 of the top 100 groceries brands. They are seen by consumers on hundreds of thousands of products every day.

OPRL labels are valued by 8 in 10 local authority recycling officers and supported by UK materials recycling associations for metals, paper and plastics, and by the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment.

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