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Standardized label to guide U.K. pack recycling

ONRL.jpgA number of U.K. supermarkets and manufacturers of packaged products have signed on to participate in a new, universal on-pack recycling label program operated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) under a company called OPRL (On-Pack Recycling Label) Ltd. (www.onpackrecyclinglabel.org.uk). Replacing the potentially confusing range of symbols previously used for recycling, the single, industry-supported label will, for the first time, provide consumers with standardized information on whether packaging can be recycled.

The initiative builds on retailers’ existing green commitments. It is intended to boost U.K. household recycling rates by giving consumers the information they need to ensure more of the material that can be recycled is recycled. Anyone who produces packaged products, such as retailers and suppliers, is being encouraged to participate.

A result of substantial consumer research, the label design builds on the WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme, www.wrap.org.uk) Recycle Now iconography by incorporating standard messaging showing each component of the packaging; the type of material it is made from; and the likelihood that a consumer’s local authority will recycle the packaging materials. The last indicator is broken down into three categories:

• Widely recycled: This means 65% or more of local authorities collect that packaging type in their area.
• Check local recycling: This means 15% to 65% of local authorities collect that packaging type in their area.
• Not currently recycled: This means less than 15% of local authorities collect that packaging type in their area.

WRAP will monitor changes in local authorities’ recycling capabilities, which will determine the labeling category into which each packaging material falls.

“Retailers have taken the lead in developing this new recycling label because they recognize their relationship with customers means they are uniquely placed to help people do the right thing,” says British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson. “Customer confusion is the biggest barrier to improving recycling rates. Replacing a potentially confusing array of symbols and messages with a single, standardized logo will help customers recycle more of what can be recycled.

“A string of household-name retailers are already committed to using the label. I hope we see all businesses that use packaging join this valuable scheme.”

Among the U.K. retailers that have signed on to participate in the program are Asda, the Co-operative Group, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose. Committed manufacturers include Associated British Foods, Britvic, Kellogg’s, Premier Foods, Rachel’s Organics, Robert Wiseman Dairies, and Weetabix. The aim is to have 60 companies signed up to the label in the first year.

Says WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin, “I welcome this development as it improves the recycling information on-pack and addresses the question that many consumers ask, ‘What can be recycled here in the U.K.?’ As the U.K.’s infrastructure improves, the labels on-pack can reflect this, helping us all recycle more things more often.”

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