Innovate Blog
New recycling label rules in On-Pack Recycling Label scheme

Wednesday February 12, 2020

The On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) scheme aims to deliver a simple, consistent and UK-wide recycling message on retailer and brand packaging to help consumers recycle material correctly, more often. Recently, new rules governing OPRL’s recycling labels will see a move to a binary labelling system: ‘Recycle’ or ‘Don’t Recycle’ – giving greater transparency on the final fate of packaging, highlighting what gets sorted and reprocessed and which pack designs are likely to be landfilled or incinerated.

With the introduction of the new labelling rules, consumers in the catering & hospitality industry will have clearer and simpler signposting on how best to dispose of their used food packaging effectively.

About OPRL

Recognised by the UN Environment Programme as international best practice, the award-winning OPRL scheme delivers a simple, consistent and UK-wide recycling message on consumer packaging and has members from all parts of the packaging supply chain, from design to manufacture to retailer.


The goal of OPRL is to support the circular economy for all major packaging materials within the UK, creating a responsible approach to the materials we use. Cited in Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan as a key component in tackling waste, the scheme supports UK governments’ and local authority objectives, the EU Waste and Recycling Directive and its aims.

By offering a consistent and well understood label, OPRL aims to:

  • Keep it simple for consumers and users;
  • Provide clear advice to consumers on how they can recycle in their local area;
  • Be practical to apply on packs alongside statutory information;
  • Support innovative councils which collect materials not currently widely recycled; and
  • Protect quality of recycling streams by preventing contamination with materials that are unlikely to be recycled.

OPRL new rules

OPRL has launched new recycling label rules, moving the majority of packaging into a binary labelling system: ‘Recycle’ or ‘Don’t Recycle’. The move is expected to drive more rapid switching into sustainable packaging ahead of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) reforms as new labels are applied over the next 3 years.

The new labels will aim to reduce consumer confusion and provide greater transparency on what gets recycled, with the ‘Recycle’ labels indicating that 75 per cent or more of UK local authorities will collect and recycle that type of packaging, and the ‘Don’t Recycle’ labels signifying that fewer than 50 per cent of local authorities collect and recycle the packaging type.

Justin Turquet, Head of Sustainability, Bunzl Catering & Hospitality Division, comments “We might expect the new OPRL labels to appear on an increasingly wide range of foodservice packaging over the coming months. The result should be that more people have a clearer understanding about when to recycle their waste, whilst generating a positive impact on local authority recycling as a result. Bunzl Catering & Hospitality Division welcomes any move that is designed to create a more transparent approach to the materials and products we use.”

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