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  • 18 Mar 2009

Retailers launch recycling label

A new, universal on-pack recycling label is being launched by leading retailers in the UK. For the first time, it will provide customers with standardized information on whether packaging can be recycled. The single, industry-supported label replaces the potentially confusing range of symbols previously used.

Anyone who produces packaged products, such as retailers and suppliers, is being encouraged to participate. A string of major retailers and suppliers have already committed to taking part. 

The initiative builds on retailers’ existing green commitments. It is intended to boost UK household recycling rates by giving customers the information they need to ensure more of the material that can be recycled is recycled.

The scheme will be operated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) under a company called OPRL (On-Pack Recycling Label) Limited. WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Program) will monitor changes in local authorities’ recycling capabilities which will determine the labeling category each packaging materials fall into.

The new on-pack recycling label will have three categories depending on how likely it is that a customer’s local authority will accept specific packaging materials for recycling:

* Widely recycled
* Check local recycling
* Not currently recycled
Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium director general, said: 'Retailers have taken the lead in developing this new recycling label because they recognise their relationship with customers means they are uniquely placed to help people do the right thing. Customer confusion is the biggest barrier to improving recycling rates. Replacing a potentially confusing array of symbols and messages with a single, standardized logo will help customers recycle more of what can be recycled. 

'A string of household-name retailers are already committed to using the label. I hope we see all businesses that use packaging join this valuable scheme.' 

Environment minister Jane Kennedy said: 'By standardizing the information provided to shoppers, these new recycling labels make it easier for us to know what we can recycle and help us to recycle more. I applaud the retailing sector for taking this initiative.' 

Melanie Leech, Food and Drink Federation director general, said: 'Food and drink manufacturers are committed to providing more advice to consumers on how best to recycle or recover used packaging, as set out in our Five-fold Environmental Ambition. We welcome the launch of this new scheme and will encourage our members to use the new label.'