OPRL adds in-store recycling labels to crisp packets

OPRL announced yesterday (15 November) that it will add its specialist in-store recycling labelling to crisp packets and metallised snack and chocolate wrappers from 1 January 2022.

OPRL says it conducted "extensive research" into the ability of the UK's sorting and reprocessing infrastructure to sort and recycle lightly metallised crisp packets within PP film streams (picture: Shutterstock)

The announcement follows the news that OPRL will also tell people to recycle polypropylene (PP) films in-store from the same date.

The public will still be advised not to recycle crisp packets or films at home.

The independent not-for-profit OPRL operates a UK-wide on-pack recycling label scheme, which it says is used by more than 660 member companies and charities.

OPRL says it is “confident” that collections of lightly metallised and non-metallised mono-polymer PP film will be widely available to more than 75% of the population across the UK by January 2022. It also believes the material will be “successfully sorted” and go on for processing into new packaging and products.

The definition of qualifying metallised packaging, agreed between European packaging consortium CEFLEX, resources charity WRAP and OPRL, is PP film where the metallisation layer is a maximum 0.1 micron applied by vacuum or vapour deposition to the inside of the pack, such as crisp packets.

The labelling extension does not apply to packaging materials constructed of aluminium foil laminates such as pet food pouches, which will continue to be labelled ‘don’t recycle’.


Karen Graley, co-chair of OPRL’s technical advisory committee, said: “This move to extend further our specialist in-store recycling labelling for PE and PP films to include metallised crisp packets and confectionary wraps is good news in simplifying messaging for consumers. It allows us to capture more of this valuable material and drive higher recycling rates.

It was crucial for us to establish the evidence base that the UK’s sorting and recycling infrastructure can cope with these lightly coated wrappers

– Karen Graley, co-chair of OPRL’s technical advisory committee

“It was crucial for us to establish the evidence base that the UK’s sorting and recycling infrastructure can cope with these lightly coated wrappers, and that they won’t contaminate recyclate streams or reduce quality, before making this move. We’re grateful for the information and assurances we’ve been given by key infrastructure stakeholders.”


OPRL says the move to add the labels to crisp packets, backed by WRAP, will support The UK Plastics Pact target to ramp up all plastics packaging recycling to 70% by 2025 by “simplifying messaging” and broadening the range of plastic bags and wrappers consumers can recycle at the front of stores.

In May, WRAP called for more supermarkets to recycle plastic bags and other wrapping

The UK Plastics Pact, signed by WRAP and more than 160 UK businesses, sets out four targets to be met by 2025 in a bid to increase plastic recycling and reduce single-use packaging.

Several supermarkets already collect crisp packets and similar wrapping via front of store recycling points, OPRL says, with many others trialling scheme ahead of the expected roll-out of the labels.

In June, Sainsbury’s rolled out a flexible plastic recycling scheme to 520 stores nationwide (see letsrecycle.com story). Tesco followed suit in August, announcing the roll-out of soft plastic collection points at every one of its “large” stores in the UK (see letsrecycle.com story).

Just this week, supermarket chain Morrisons announced it had acquired a “significant stake” in a soft plastics recycling plant in Fife, Scotland (see letsrecycle.com story).

Sainsbury’s and Tesco launched their schemes after resources charity WRAP called on more supermarkets to collect all types of plastic bags and wrapping for sorting and recycling in May (see letsrecycle.com story)

Plastics Pact

Helen Bird, strategic technical manager for plastics at WRAP and a member of OPRL’s technical advisory committee, welcomed OPRL’s move to its labelling to crisp packets.

She said: “Ahead of plastic bags and wrappers being collected directly from people’s houses, supermarket collection points are a critical stepping-stone on this journey under The UK Plastics Pacts.

“In the last year the number of people taking bags and wrappers to supermarkets has nearly doubled and we expect this to grow significantly.

“We’re a nation of crisp lovers and it’s great to see the on-pack label informing people that the packs can be recycled at supermarkets; importantly, they are not just collected, but go on to be recycled.”

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