Packaging Recyclability & Design

Packaging has a key role to play in helping society live more sustainably. Without it, many of the goods manufactured or food products grown would be damaged or spoiled before they reached the shops. Packaging should be designed to satisfy technical, consumer and customer requirements in a way that minimises environmental impact. This means, that amongst other things, packaging should be designed to use the minimum amount of resources for purpose and once it has completed it's job, the scope for recycling or recovery maximised.

Industries involved in the packaging industry understand the demonstratable benefits of plastics as a packaging material. Its lightweight nature is of particular benefit due to transport cost minimisation. Plastics may also be the most appropriate material to meet consumer demands of ensured freshness, safety and product visibility.

The RECOUP team understand the recycling system from collection to reprocessing, particularly at the sorting stage and how a MRF operates to sort and detect plastic packaging. 

Paul East and the team have written RECOUP’s Recyclability By Design publication for the UK and Spain. The team have managed multiple projects relating to the recycling of plastic packaging, including work with WRAP to develop end markets for PET pots, tubs and trays (PTT’s). Other publications available include the Black Plastic Packaging Forum report and various case studies, highlighting good and bad packaging examples.

The team can assist with questions and enquiries relating to your packaging, the material and design. Packaging can be tested at a facility in the UK to access its recyclability and in addition to this RECOUP can now offer an online RecyClass certification of plastic packaging. More information on these services can be found in the links below.

To view any of our additional published reports, please visit the RECOUP Reports page. Members have access to additional reports in the Members Area - any members currently without access can submit a member login request via email to to get this set up.

Updated: Apr 2022

RecyClass is run exclusively by RECOUP for the UK and is the first approved certification system for plastic packaging recyclability. Click here to find out more and to arrange tests.
Click here to learn more about Recyclability by Design, including the newly updated 2023 Recyclability by Design guidance information and see other reports
All reports and case studies produced by the team

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