Advancing Sustainability: PE and PP Mixed Structures Now Recyclable in the UK

In a significant stride towards environmental responsibility, OPRL (On-Pack Recycling Label), announces that Polyethylene (PE) and Polypropylene (PP) mixed structures are now officially recyclable in the United Kingdom. This achievement marks a pivotal moment in our commitment to providing sustainable packaging solutions.

Background on OPRL Polyolefin Guidance Update

The change in recyclability guidance, effective January 2024, now allows ePac to advise customers that PE and PP mixed structures are recyclable within the UK. This development is in line with OPRL rules and signifies a noteworthy progression in the realm of flexible packaging sustainability.

These labels must only be used on plastic bags and wrapping that can be recycled through the front of store collection points, and must be either mono PE or PP packaging, or any mixed polyolefin packaging. OPRL members can refer to the Flexible Plastics section for our rules for film recyclability.

Key Points of the OPRL Guidance Update

The OPRL guidance outlines specific criteria for the recyclability of mixed polyolefin films, including:

  • Minimum 90% mixed polyolefin (PE and PP) content.
  • No more than 5% of EVOH, PVOH, AlOx, SiOx, and Acrylic.
  • Metallisation can be included, provided the metallisation layer is a maximum of 0.1 micron applied by vacuum or vapour deposition to the inside of the pack, excluding materials constructed of aluminium foil laminates.
  • Labels of different materials should be a maximum size of 30% of each packaging face and easily removable.

In simpler terms, this update means that ePac can now confidently inform our customers that PE/PP mixed structures are recyclable under OPRL guidance within the UK.

Impact on Customers and the Environment

This development holds significant implications for both consumers and the environment. By adhering to these updated guidelines, ePac is contributing to the reduction of plastic waste and promoting a circular economy. The recyclability of PE and PP mixed structures aligns with our commitment to sustainable practices and supports the broader industry shift towards environmentally responsible packaging solutions.

Customers now have the assurance that the PE/PP mixed structures comply with OPRL rules and are suitable for recycling at front-of-store collections within the UK. The added flexibility allows for the structures to be included in local store drop-off recycling programs. 

Recommendations for Customers

To further assist our customers in navigating these changes, we recommend directing any specific questions or inquiries about artwork to OPRL. OPRL provides a calculator to its members, offering valuable insights into recyclability considerations. We encourage our customers to explore this tool for a comprehensive understanding of how our recyclable PE and PP mixed structures can align with their packaging needs. Additionally, OPRL advocates the use of monomaterial over mixed plastics. Despite new developments, the organisation maintains that employing monomaterial remains the primary recommendation for optimal recyclability. 

A Call for Sustainability

At ePac, we recognise the urgency of addressing environmental concerns, and this development is a testament to our dedication to sustainability. Our commitment extends beyond providing recyclable packaging solutions; we aim to actively participate in shaping a future where sustainable practices are integral to the packaging industry.

As we move forward, ePac is more than willing to host informative calls with our members to delve deeper into the nuances of this change. We believe that open communication and collaboration are vital in fostering a shared commitment to sustainability. Click here to contact one of our team members.