New Film Recyclability Guidance

Date Published: Monday 20th April 2020

Recycling charity, RECOUP has released its updated Recyclability by Design publication to include guidelines for recyclability of plastic film.  The publication includes RecyClass’ recyclability tables in order to help address the challenge of designing plastic film packaging to give it the greatest chance of being recycled.

Guidance includes the importance of separation of materials, avoidance of laminates and the greater recyclability credentials of PE and PP film when compared to other materials. The publication also includes contributions from RECOUP members: Coca-Cola, Faerch, Garçon Wines, KP Films, Krehalon, Borealis and TOMRA Sorting Solutions.

RECOUP’s decision to include film comes as the UK continues to work towards its recycling ambitions for 2025. While it is estimated that almost 400,000 tonnes of plastic film are produced in the UK each year, RECOUP’s annual UK Household Plastics Collection Survey reported in 2019 that only 16% of UK Local Authorities list film as being collected kerbside. This low service rate is, in part, due to the challenges this material causes collection and sorting machinery, its lightweight nature, transportation challenges and the ultimate low value, as well as the high contamination rates of this type of material.

Not only will these guidelines help to support making plastic film packaging more suitable for collection, but also help to reduce contamination levels and the weight and quantity of films in non-circular waste routes.

Paul East, RECOUP’s Packaging Sustainability Manager, said:

“At times of increasingly challenging recycling targets both in the UK and across Europe, there is an ever-increasing importance in finding sources of plastics to recycle rather than go to non-circular end destinations such as landfill and incineration.

RECOUP’s Recyclability by Design publication helps to address this at the first stage by advising users and designers of plastic packaging of the best way to ensure that their packaging has the best chance of being recycled, or, failing that, have minimal impact in terms of what cannot be recycled.”

The Recyclability by Design document is available to download for free on the RECOUP website, at


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