As the Environment Bill resumes its passage in the House of Lords, the UK’s world-leading resource and recycling labelling not-for-profit is calling for a single design to be adopted for the Government’s proposed mandatory recycling labelling. Launching its #MakeItEasy campaign on 8 September, OPRL is spearheading a broad coalition of brands, retailers and organisations campaigning to ensure the benefits of its existing world class labelling are not undermined by a free for all in label design, confusing consumers and reducing effective recycling.
Consumers consistently say understanding what can and can’t be recycled can be confusing – and so are multiple recycling symbols. While the Government plans to introduce mandatory recycling labelling on all packaging in the Environment Bill, the proposals would allow any business or labelling scheme to decide for themselves what the label would look like, subject to an approval process. That will inevitably lead to a proliferation of labels adding to current confusion and reducing the amount of everyday packaging that gets recycled.
A coalition of businesses and organisations are supporting OPRL’s call for a single label design to be used to give consumers a clear steer. The public are being invited to show their support via the #MakeItEasy petition at https://change.org/MakeItEasy.
Lord Teverson has tabled an amendment to the Environment Bill (Amendment 35) which would secure this unified approach to mandatory recycling labelling.
OPRL’s research shows most recycling labels are poorly understood and many aren’t well recognised. Clear and consistent recycling labelling makes it easy for consumers to do the right thing. Recycling is a positive environmental action and ranked second across 18 pro-environmental behaviours UK consumers were adopting post-covid (surveyed March 2021).
- 3 in 4 consumers want to do something positive to help the planet and see recycling as a difference they can make, but look to Government and business to make it easy for them;
- 60% of consumers say they have increased their recycling over the last year as something positive they can do;
- 3 in 5 consumers understand exactly what OPRL labels mean, compared to just 1 in 5 for resin codes and 1 in 10 for the Mobius Loop and Green Dot;
- The move to clearer calls to action on OPRL’s new Recycle/Don’t Recycle labels in 2020 has improved consumer understanding by 9%, showing how small variations in label design can have big impacts.
Jane Bevis, Executive Chair at OPRL, said: “As a purpose-driven organisation we are committed to achieving the best environmental outcome by maximising recycling through clear and consistent, evidence-based labelling. We are happy to compete with other schemes in providing labelling services under Defra’s proposals as we’ve built a solid reputation as a world-leading labelling scheme, but firmly believe all providers should supply the same label design – that’s the only way to support consumers in recycling effectively.”
Margaret Bates, Executive Director at OPRL, added: “A single label for every brand and retailer makes sense, which is why leading retailers and brands came together to form OPRL in 2009. Our labels are already on millions of products and seen every day by consumers. The UN Environment Programme, Consumers International and the Environmental Coalition on Standards have all cited OPRL labels as global good practice, so why settle for anything less?”
“Like traffic signs, the OPRL label directs you to take the right action. We think all packaging should bear the same clear and consistent recycling labels. We’re asking the public to join our #MakeItEasy campaign to ask the Government to legislate for a single label for recycling.”
The campaign is backed by manufacturers and retailers, packaging, and waste management businesses, and from organisations as diverse as the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management, the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee and the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers, the Environmental Services Association, the Foodservice Packaging Association, British Glass, the Confederation of Paper Industries and Recycling Of Used Plastics Ltd. A single label is backed by consumer groups Which? and the National Consumer Federation and green NGO the Green Alliance.