Recycling proposals risk ‘free for all’ on label designs

Businesses have thrown their weight behind a new campaign to adopt a single design for the government’s proposed mandatory recycling labelling.

OPRL (the on-pack recycling label) is leading a coalition of brands, retailers and other organisations to ensure new government legislation does not result in a “free for all” in label design.

The government plans to introduce mandatory recycling labelling on all packaging in the Environment Bill, which reached the report stage in the House of Lords this week. However, current proposals would allow any business or labelling scheme to decide for themselves what the label would look like, subject to an approval process.

OPRL, the non-profit which operates the UK-wide scheme used by over 660 member companies and charities, said the proposals would lead to a proliferation of labels adding to current confusion and reducing the amount of everyday packaging that gets recycled.

Businesses including Iceland, Kraft Heinz and Biffa are supporting OPRL’s #MakeItEasy campaign which launched this week.

Lord Teverson, meanwhile, has tabled an amendment to the Environment Bill which would secure a unified approach to mandatory recycling 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,” said Jane Bevis, executive chair at OPRL.

“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,” Bevis said, adding that OPRL was willing to share its label designs with other providers.

OPRL recently moved to a binary ‘recycle/don’t recycle’ system for non-resuable packaging to simplify the messaging for consumers.

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