OPRL launches new recyclability certification scheme

In response to growing public confusion over what can be recycled, On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) Ltd has launched a new UK Certification scheme, ‘Certified As Recyclable’, to provide evaluated and tested recyclability assessments.

The launch coincides with Recycle Week 2020 and will initially be for rigid and flexible plastic packaging. In partnership with plastic recycling charity RECOUP the scheme will be extended across all packaging materials and will align with OPRL’s Labelling Rules and its Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP).

OPRL CertificationThis scheme is available exclusively to OPRL members and helps them deliver the requirements brought from signing the UK Plastics Pact and other sustainability commitments. 

Certification will ensure that the packaging type and materials are collected in the UK for recycling, are effectively sorted for recycling at UK material recycling facilities (MRF) and plastics recycling facilities (PRF), 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 and its 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, which launched the RecyClassUK certification scheme earlier this month to make the evaluation of the recyclability of rigid plastics more consistent.

Consumers regularly say that they find labelling confusing, which has inspired several organisations to find ways to make a product’s recyclability as clear as possible. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) launched a social media campaign earlier this year to combat public plastic confusion.

OPRL has made significant changes over the past year to reduce ambiguity surrounding recycling, with the launch of a labelling system that straightforwardly instructs consumers to either ‘recycle’ or ‘don’t recycle’.

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.”

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.”

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