New recycling guidelines that will aim to help retailers and brands specify and design packaging that can be reprocessed in paper mills have been announced by the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) and WRAP.
These guidelines follow a broad consultation with the packaging supply chain and are intended to provide clarity for retailers and specifiers about what the UK paper sector considers readily recyclable.
It is hoped that it will lead to the maximisation of quality and quantity of materials being recycled at mills and help generate motivation for future development in paper packaging materials.
The guidelines will also be considered by the On-Pack Labelling Scheme (OPRL) when it amends its labels this year.
OPRL members typically have a two-year transition period, which allows time for technical development to be implemented in order to be classed as ‘widely recycled’ under the scheme.
Key messages from the guidelines include:
- Designers should minimise plastic content
- A tear-off facility should be provided for plastic facings where possible, with consumers encouraged to use them
- Two sided laminates such as beverage cartons and hard to recycle coffee cups can be recycled and should be collected and reprocessed separately
- Restrict metallised films and laminates
- Choose adhesives that are soluble in water and optimise the quantities of glues and adhesives used in manufacturing
- Waxed or waxed coated papers and siliconised papers should be minimised.
On food contamination, it advises:
- Surface staining of packaging is acceptable, but food waste sitting in the pack or food attached to the surface is regarded as unacceptable
- Encourage consumers to rinse before recycling
- Provide tear-off solutions or peelable surfaces to allow the consumer to dispose of a contaminated surface in general waste and put the clean paper substrate in the recycling bin.
Paper recycling in the UK is a success story, with around 80% of paper and board packaging recovered for recycling said CPI director of raw materials Simon Weston.
He added: “Paper is widely acknowledged to be a sustainable, renewable and readily recyclable material. However, as society develops new uses are found which may require the addition of other materials, perhaps to extend product life, and this can sometimes make recycling a challenge.
“Our new Recyclability Guidelines will make it easier for designers and specifiers to identify materials that provide properties such as water resistance and can be processed by UK paper mills while minimising waste. We hope they will provide confidence and direction to the supply chain and benefit the stock of fibre-based packaging being recovered for recycling.”
WRAP strategic engagement manager Helen Bird said: “Improving the quality of paper and card that goes into our paper mills is good news for the environment and for the industry. These guidelines have been developed as a result of industry coming together to identify and address the challenges. Most brands and retailers want to do the right thing and this guidance will assist them to do that. We always have to remember that recycling is about manufacture, ensuring that fibre-based packaging that can be easily recycled is really important, particularly for a material that householders are so accustomed to recycling.”