Design guidance for recyclability of household rigid plastic packaging

16th July 2019

Setting out the UK’s vision for best in class design in rigid household plastic packaging. Includes plastic packaging currently classed as recyclable and the ambition for recycled content.

Key points
Guidance for packaging designers and specifiers.
Design packaging for optimal recyclability.
Listing which household rigid plastics are considered recyclable.

Importance of the guidance

Plastic packaging can play an important role in protecting products we buy, like food. Waste from these products generally has a far greater carbon impact than the packaging itself. However, where plastic packaging is essential we must ensure that it is kept within a circular economy and out of the natural environment.

Adhering to this guidance will ensure that packaging is designed to be ‘best in class’ to ensure that it is recyclable under the current UK recycling infrastructure. It will help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the UK recycling system while helping to reduce confusion amongst the public over what can be recycled.

“Citizens want to see packaging that is 100% recyclable, which they can recycle at home.” INCPEN & WRAP: UK survey 2019 on citizens’ attitudes & behaviours relating to food waste, packaging and plastic packaging

Adoption of this guidance will also increase the availability of good quality recycled content, currently a key barrier to achieving 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging - one of the four targets under The UK Plastics Pact. Enabling more plastic to get recycled will improve the availability of recycled plastic for packaging producers and displace the need to use virgin plastic material derived from oil. 

What packaging is covered in the guidance?