The On-Pack Recycling Label scheme was developed by the British Retail Consortium and WRAP in 2009 and it aims to deliver a simple, UK-wide, consistent, recycling message on both retail and brand-owner packaging to help consumers recycle more.
Stores, such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Waitrose, which collect plastic bags for recycling will now accept clean plastic film packaging in the same facilities for the first time, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) announced today.
A new version of the on-pack label will appear on relevant packaging to encourage customers to dispose of it in this way. Carrier bag banks can be found at more than 4,500 supermarkets.
The thin plastic, also used around multipacks of cans and household goods such as toilet roll, makes up 43 per cent of all plastic household packaging and weighs in at 645,000 tonnes every year. By comparison, plastic bottles account for 32 per cent – 480,000 tonnes.
Thin plastic film is fully recyclable but until now most people have had no means of recycling it.
The BRC said that retailers recognise in-store collection of thin plastics is an efficient way to further their recycling efforts.
The BRC added that they expect to see council sites and kerb-side collections handle the majority of packaging and other waste, such as electrical goods, which is not appropriate for return in store.
Speaking to Packaging News, BRC head of environment and director of on-pack recycling label Bob Gordon said: “For the first time we have a meaningful infrastructure to collect plastic film in the UK. This is genuinely a recycling breakthrough. We have found a way to recycle thin plastic packaging that we could not recycle before – that is truly exciting.”
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He said that customers “were frustrated that they could not recycle the material anywhere”.
Gordon also said that this announcement showed that retailers were prepared to go above and beyond what is expected of them to support customers’ environmental efforts.
“We know many consumers want to do their bit for the planet and this move will be a big help.
“Retailers are leading the way in helping customers minimise waste through measures such as reducing the weight of packaging and providing consistent on-pack information.”
Defra Minister Lord Henley said: “This is a great move by retailers and exactly the type of initiative that is needed to help people recycle more. People who want to do the right thing and recycle bread packaging and other plastic film can now do so easily and hassle free as they go in to do their shopping.”
Gordon also said that it was the second year anniversary of the OPRL and a new metal foil packaging sign had been added to the label. This addition shows that metal foil packaging is now collected in more than 65% of local authorities. The label lets customers know whether the material is either widely recycled by their local council, not currently recycled or whether they should check locally.
He said a third of customers are now familiar with the label.