New WRAP and Recycling Guidelines

New guidelines

The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) and Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP) have launched new recycling guidelines. The aim is to make the process of recycling paper-based products easier and more efficient. The guidelines are focused on ensuring that designers, manufacturers and retailers follow practices to ensure the vast majority of these products can be readily recycled.

Most paper and card packaging is easy to recycle. Ultimately, recyclability is determined by the composition and design of the packaging. How materials are collected and presented to recycling facilities is another factor that needs considering. Adding even small amounts of plastic to paper-based products can present challenges. Beverage cups, containers and other plastic laminated food packaging cause the most issues.

Sometimes it may be necessary to add plastic to paper packaging in order to waterproof the container. It is still possible to recycle these containers if they are clearly labelled, and collected and reprocessed separately from other paper and card packaging. The On-Pack Recycling Label scheme (OPRL) will be considering the new WRAP guidelines when it amends its labels later in the year, which should help provide clarity about whether a package is readily recyclable, and how to process it.

Key messages

There are several key messages that UK businesses and manufacturers need to pay attention to:

  • Plastic content in paper-based packaging should be minimised
  • A tear-off facility should be in place for plastic facings when possible
  • Metal films, plastic laminates, waxed papers and siliconised papers should be minimised
  • There should be a maximum plastic content of 5% (by weight) in paper-based packaging
  • A maximum plastic content of 3% (by weight) is preferred by the industry
  • Double sided laminates such as beverage cups and containers should be recycled separately

By adapting design and manufacturing processes, it should be possible to recycle the majority of paper and card-based packaging. WRAP Strategic Engagement Manager Helen Bird said: “These guidelines have been developed as a result of industry coming together to identify and address the challenges. Most brands and retailers want to do the right thing and this guidance will assist them to do that.”

You can find the official WRAP guidelines leaflet at


Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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