The United Kingdom-based Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI), in conjunction with U.K.-based WRAP, has launched a new set of recycling guidelines designed to help retailers and brands specify and design packaging that can be reprocessed effectively at paper mills in the U.K.
The guidelines have been developed after consultation with the packaging supply chain and are intended to give clarity for retailers and specifiers about what the U.K. paper industry considers readily recyclable. The guidelines are expected to lead to optimizing quality and quantity of materials being recycled at paper mills and help create the impetus for future technological development in paper packaging materials.
CEPI refers to paper recycling in the U.K. as a success story, with around 80 percent of paper and board packaging recovered for recycling. “Paper is widely acknowledged to be a sustainable, renewable and readily recyclable material; however, as society develops new uses are found which may require the addition of other materials, perhaps to extend product life, and this can sometimes make recycling a challenge,” says Simon Weston, director of raw materials at CEPI.
“Our new recyclability guidelines will make it easier for designers and specifiers to identify materials that provide properties such as water resistance and can be processed by U.K. paper mills while minimizing waste,” adds Weston. “We hope they will provide confidence and direction to the supply chain and benefit the stock of fibre-based packaging being recovered for recycling.”
Helen Bird, WRAP’s strategic engagement manager, says, “These guidelines have been developed as a result of industry coming together to identify and address the challenges. Most brands and retailers want to do the right thing, and this guidance will assist them to do that. We always have to remember that recycling is about manufacture, ensuring that fiber-based packaging that can be easily recycled is really important, particularly for a material that householders are so accustomed to recycling.”
Key messages of the guidelines include:
- designers should minimize plastic content;
- a tear-off facility should be provided for plastic facings where possible, with consumers encouraged to use them;
- two-sided laminates such as beverage cartons and hard-to-recycle coffee cups can be recycled and should be collected and reprocessed separately;
- restrict metallized films and laminates;
- choose adhesives that are soluble in water and optimize the quantities of glues and adhesives used in manufacturing;
- waxed or waxed coated papers and siliconized papers should be minimized;
- regarding food contamination, the two groups noted the following: Surface staining of packaging is acceptable, but food waste sitting in the pack or food attached to the surface is regarded as unacceptable;
- encourage consumers to rinse before recycling; and
- provide tear-off solutions or peelable surfaces to allow the consumer to dispose of a contaminated surface in general waste and put the clean paper substrate in the recycling bin.