Sustainability & Circularity

While plastics recycling is a vital component of a circular economy there is also the need to consider factors such as the environmental impacts of products throughout their lifecycle, particularly the efficient use of resources, to ensure that sustainability principles and progress towards circular economy are aligned.

Plastics often represent the most cost and carbon-effective material for many applications, but this can be undermined by lack of knowledge and the emotion attached to anti-plastic sentiment. It is essential that we recognise the benefits of plastic and plastic recycling with firm evidence and facts to avoid unintended environmental consequences and to support a circular economy.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

RECOUP has established a working group and is formalising a strategy to look at how the organisation can build LCA capability to assist members and the wider industry to better inform decision making related to product design in order that decisions are based on environmentally sound evidence rather than emotion.

LCA is a tool to assess the environmental impact of products, goods, and services across their life cycle from raw material extraction through to end of life. The intention of an LCA is not only to provide data on environmental performance but to facilitate decisions. LCA has become an increasingly popular tool to identify significant areas of impact for improvement, avoid unintended consequences and to explore future scenarios based on alternatives.

RECOUP believe that the use of LCA will enable informed evidence-based decisions on product development and design, support supply chain and procurement decisions, track performance over time of packaging changes, improve overall environmental outcomes in line with strategy and policy, and challenge misinformation and greenwash.

Environmental Impact of Recycled Plastic

There is a desire to understand the environmental impact of recycled material in comparison to virgin. While the use of recycled plastic is recognised to reduce the environmental impact of products, data, and evidence to back this up can be difficult to find and complex to understand. RECOUP is actively exploring this area with the outlook to make information available to members. This workstream will complement the pre-existing services that RECOUP offers members to give a more holistic overview of the environmental impact of plastic packaging and product choices.

Reuse & Refill Systems

Refill and reuse systems will have a significant role to play in the future as progress is made to find long term solutions for resource efficiency and the circular economy. Many of these systems are still in their infancy and there is work to be done to implement and exploit the best and most viable models. It is important that these systems work at scale, adding layers of innovation where needed to improve the service as we move forward. It is also important to implement these types of systems only when practical and genuinely the best option. RECOUP is supportive of the role of reuse and refill in relation to resource efficiency and supporting a circular economy and is actively working on research and projects to support this area.

Green Claims

With the recent publication of guidance for business around making environmental claims on goods and services, from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), it is now more crucial than ever to ensure sustainability and environmental-related communications are clear, evidence-based and do not mislead the consumer. This covers both business-to-consumer claims as well as business-to-business claims to ensure that both are able to make informed purchasing decisions. RECOUP strongly believes environmental claims should be founded on objective data and evidence using recognised standards and best practice and can assist members in areas such as certification of packaging recyclability and understanding developments in verification systems for recycled content.

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