New guidance has been published setting out which plastics used in household packaging are currently classed as recyclable.
According to WRAP – which manages The UK Plastics Pact – the new guidance provides direction to packaging designers and specifiers, setting out a ‘best in class’ vision for design, including targets for recycled content.
Through consultation with industry, WRAP has identified what types of plastic packaging are actually recycled – at scale and in practice – and are therefore defined as ‘recyclable’.
The On-Pack Labelling Scheme (OPRL) is anticipated to adopt what is classed as ‘recyclable’ under The UK Plastics Pact when it updates its guidance later this year.
The document highlights a preference for clear PET on the basis that the end market for this material is significantly higher and by using ‘clear’, there is the greatest potential for it to be used back, ideally into plastic packaging.
When it comes to colour, only those that can be sorted in the recycling processes using near-infra red technology will be deemed recyclable.
WRAP plans to publish further guidance on this in the coming months, specifically in relation to new near-infra-red (NIR) detectable black plastics.
While the scope of the guidance is currently rigid plastic packaging – bottles, pots tubs and trays – it will be updated in the future to include films and flexibles.
The classifications of what is recyclable do not yet include compostable plastics. WRAP believes similar principles should be applied to these types of plastics, with a need to demonstrate that the materials are actually composted in current infrastructure. Further guidance on this is expected over the summer.