The UK Government are currently in consultation with councils across the nation about recycling practices. At the moment, it’s a bit of post code lottery when it comes to recycling. What you can recycle and the bins you use all depend on where you live. Essentially, the consultation means the Government want to standardise waste collection by 2023/2024 – so we all use the same bins and the same materials can be collected.
Whilst some of the plans are controversial (there’s talk of 7 bins per household), a major overhaul of kerbside recycling is warranted. Household recycling has increased from 11% in 2001 to 45% in 2017, but has remained static since then. Many councils have actually seen a decrease in recycling rates, as consumers are increasingly confused about what they can and can’t recycle.
So how can you support consumer recycling with your packaging choices? Here’s a short introduction to how you can help the end customer maximise household recycling by making smart packaging choices…
Choosing the right packaging materials
Packaging has an important role to play, but it must be designed and used appropriately. Approaching your packaging with thought from the start will minimise its impact on the environment. We recommend that you:
- Use the minimum amount of material possible to provide sufficient protection for your products. This helps excess packaging in your supply chain and minimises waste your customers need to recycle
- Deploy the most efficient packaging for your needs – this reduces waste and can help lower the carbon costs from transactions that involve returns
- Use packaging that can be re-used, where possible, which contributes to a circular system
- Use packaging that is manufactured from recycled material and can be recycled. This makes things easier for the end customer and lowers waste going to landfill
The primary packaging materials that can be recycled are paper based, e.g. cardboard boxes, envelopes, paper void fill etc. You can recycle plastic too. However, where you can recycle will depend on the local authority and the type of plastic. Click here for our guide to plastics recycling.
Make sure your packaging is appropriately labelled
Appropriately labelling your packaging gives your customers the information they need to recycle it. Clearly marking:
- What kind of material your packaging is made from
- If your packaging can be recycled at kerbside or at another location
- If your packaging can be reused or composted
Schemes like OPRL, the On-Pack Recycling Label initiative, provide easy to understand markings that can clearly indicate how easy your packaging is to recycle. They aim to drive a circular economy and transform packaging resource efficiency. There are also lots of other recognisable symbols related to recycling, click here to download our guide to understanding recycling marks.
If your packaging can be re-used, you could provide information about how customers can do this. Or you could let customers know how they return it to you for repurposing.
Provide more information in-pack or on your website
If your packaging isn’t completely kerbside recyclable or you want to provide more information about sustainability, you can offer more information about this in your pack or direct customers to your website. A simple QR code printed on your packaging is easy to scan and gives your customer access to the info they need in a flash.
Alternatively, you could point your customers to industry websites like Recycle Now that can help them locate recycling services near them, or check the recyclability of a particular material.
We can help you reduce your footprint when it comes to packaging
Our team are helping businesses like yours make their packaging more sustainable every day. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask how we can help you.