UK recycling label scheme becomes part of RECOUP

RECOUP, or Recycling of Used Plastics, a United Kingdom-based plastic packaging recycling organisation, has joined the British Retail Consortium as an owner of OPRL (On-Pack Recycling Label), the U.K.’s recycling label scheme.

RECOUP says the development extends ownership across bodies sharing OPRL’s mission to promote greater and more effective recycling of packaging materials and aims to create a strong leadership position for industry on recycling issues.

OPRL and RECOUP, whose members are from across the plastic production, supply, collection and recycling chain, say they have developed a positive working relationship in recent years. The move to a more formal arrangement signals greater collaboration in the future as both organisations seek to maximise recycling of plastics packaging by engaging consumers more effectively.

An increasing number of local authorities now is collecting plastic pots, tubs and trays for recycling, meaning these items are likely to achieve Widely Recycled status as part of the 2016 OPRL Guidelines Review, alongside plastic bottles. Linking to OPRL also will reinforce the continued RECOUP technical work on plastic packaging design, plastic collection and communications activities through the Pledge4Plastics campaign, enabling broader engagement with consumers.

Commenting on the move, Stuart Foster, CEO of RECOUP, says, “This is a natural and exciting development for both organisations. With a myriad of eco and identification labels available, including the misleading SPI (the United States-based plastics industry trade association) codes, I have been a very keen supporter of OPRL as the only viable recycling label option and the best opportunity to get a clear and consistent recyclability message to the consumer.”

Jane Bevis, chair of OPRL Ltd., adds, “We’re delighted that our links with other organisations promoting recycling are being strengthened by this closer relationship with RECOUP. It’s essential that customers hear consistent and clear messages about the importance of recycling in establishing the circular economy and growth of green jobs here in the U.K.”

The OPRL scheme is used by approximately 500 brands. More information is available at and at

No margin for error

Europeans pay close attention to recycling highly visible postconsumer items, but opportunities to ramp up plastic recycling may lie beyond bottles and shopping bags, according to speakers at the 2015 Plastics Recycling Conference Europe in October in Madrid.

Keith Freegard of U.K.-based Axion Consulting said collection and recycling of plastic bottles and plastic films is “well-advanced” in Europe, adding, “There is room to grow” as far as recycling for most other types of plastic.

In some sectors, Freegard said, “The circular economy is like the Loch Ness monster—often talked about but not always seen.”

He showed a slide of a multiresin shredded cheese pouch as an example of packaging that is functional but for which recycling markets are scarce.

Paloma Cruz of ExtraPolymers, based in Spain, said it is understandable that product designers seek distinctive packaging. “Brands want to be unique—they don’t want plain containers,” she remarked, acknowledging this adds to the challenge for recyclers.

Plastics recyclers in 2015 were faced not only with quality and sorting challenges, Cruz said, but also with a pricing environment that saw PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and HDPE (high-density polyethylene) recyclers and reprocessors at times competing against virgin resins that cost less than recycled resins. “We cannot easily ask producers to use recycled material if they find virgin material cheaper,” she commented.

Serafin Garcia of Sulayr Global Service, Granada, Spain, said many of his customers’ committment to sustainability “is keeping us alive” in the face of the competition from low-priced virgin materials. “Retailers are supportive,” he said. “Customers want green products.”

Sulayr reprocesses PET scrap from many sources, including postconsumer and postindustrial materials and multilayer PET scrap.

The Recycling Today Media Group’s 2015 Plastics Recycling Conference Europe was 28-29 October at the Eurostars Madrid Tower Hotel in Madrid.