Recycling guidelines

New recycling guidelines have been developed with local authorities, waste management companies and reprocessors to tackle the continued confusion in UK households around what items can and cannot be recycled. 

The guidelines cover paper, card, mixed paper and card, plastic bottles, mixed plastic packaging, glass containers, metal packaging, cartons, food waste and garden waste include:

  • What items can and cannot be collected for recycling.
  • Contaminants that are often included.
  • How the materials should be presented e.g. lids on/off.
  • Reasons why certain items cannot be accepted or should be presented in a certain way.

The guidelines reflect what, at a national level, industry is aiming to achieve. They have been developed based on existing technology and will be reviewed over time as innovations in sorting and reprocessing are realised. 

Lee Marshall from LARAC: "LARAC has been pleased to be involved in the process of developing the guidelines along with other parts of the industry. The fact that local authorities and reprocessors were able to work constructively to produce these guidelines shows the way forward for increasing recycling levels in the UK. Without a willingness to engage local authorities this couldn’t have happened and we now encourage local authorities to use these guidelines to enhance their communications and give the public the consistent messages they say they want."

Stuart Foster from RECOUP: “The recycling guidelines project led by WRAP is an ideal opportunity for local authorities to align consumer messages around plastic collections.  We urge all local authorities to review their existing messaging and adopt the information within the guidance document wherever possible. At RECOUP we believe this represents a low cost quick win opportunity to help remove confusion around household plastics recycling, and underpins the ambitions and benefits of the wider consistency programme.”

Ray Georgeson from The Resource Association: “We were pleased to be able to work with WRAP on this important project and warmly welcome the publication of the Guidelines.  They are a necessary next step in the journey towards greater consistency in household recycling collections and in the essential task of improving the quality of recyclate by reducing contamination.  I commend them to local authorities and industry alike and I hope they are rapidly adopted in the coming months.”