OPRL launches petition for Government to standardise recycling labels

On-Pack Recycling Label (ORPL) has launched a petition urging the Government to standardise mandatory recycling labels, with Environment Bill proposals currently allowing businesses to determine label design for themselves.

OPRL labelSupported by a coalition of businesses and organisations, OPRL is inviting the public to sign the ‘#MakeItEasy’ petition, which calls for a single label to be used in order to simplify recycling for consumers.

The campaign is backed by manufacturers and retailers, packaging, and waste management businesses, including the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management, the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee and the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers, the Environmental Services Association, the Foodservice Packaging Association, British Glass, the Confederation of Paper Industries, and Recycling Of Used Plastics Ltd.

A single label is also backed by consumer groups Which? and the National Consumer Federation and green NGO the Green Alliance.

The organisation’s research shows that most recycling labels are poorly understood and recognised, with three in five consumers clearly understanding the OPRL label, as opposed to one in five for resin codes and one in 10 for the Mobius Loop and Green Dot. Additionally, the organisation has found that its clearer ‘Recycle/Don’t Recycle’ labels in 2020 improved consumer understanding by nine per cent.

With recycling ranked second across 18 pro-environmental behaviours adopted by UK consumers post-pandemic, OPRL asserts that recycling labelling must be made clear and consistent in order for ‘consumers to do the right thing.’ An amendment to the Environment Bill has been tabled by Lord Teverson, which would secure a standardised approach to mandatory recycling labelling.

Jane Bevis, Executive Chair at OPRL, said: “As a purpose-driven organisation we are committed to achieving the best environmental outcome by maximising recycling through clear and consistent, evidence-based labelling.

“We are happy to compete with other schemes in providing labelling services under Defra’s proposals as we’ve built a solid reputation as a world-leading labelling scheme, but firmly believe all providers should supply the same label design – that’s the only way to support consumers in recycling effectively.

“A free for all with endless confusing variations of design would undermine the environmental objectives of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) and would be a major setback. That’s why we’re willing to share our label designs and the huge consumer recognition we’ve built up over the last 12 years with other providers.

“We’re passionate about driving transformational change in packaging resource efficiency as part of addressing climate change and biodiversity loss. We have got to #MakeItEasy for everyone to recycle well.”

Michael Topham, CEO of Biffa, also commented: "We’re supporting the ORPL campaign for clear recycle labels because it’s essential that consumers and businesses understand what can be recycled and which bin to put it in. Clear labelling is also a vital step in helping everyone choose those products and packaging which are widely recycled. If we all make better-informed choices it means more material can be recycled and fewer virgin resources are removed from the earth.”

Margaret Bates, Executive Director at OPRL, added: “A single label for every brand and retailer makes sense, which is why leading retailers and brands came together to form OPRL in 2009. Our labels are already on millions of products and seen every day by consumers. The UN Environment Programme, Consumers International and the Environmental Coalition on Standards have all cited OPRL labels as global good practice, so why settle for anything less?

“Like traffic signs, the OPRL label directs you to take the right action. We think all packaging should bear the same clear and consistent recycling labels. We’re asking the public to join our #MakeItEasy campaign to ask the Government to legislate for a single label for recycling.”