Guide

Design packaging to reduce environmental impacts

How to design packaging for recycling

One option for your used packaging is to design the packaging so that the end user can recycle it. You can make your packaging compatible with collection and recycling systems by:

  • avoiding packaging materials that are not standard and may cause recycling problems
  • making your packaging compatible with established recycling processes
  • designing packaging that minimises any product residue
  • ensuring your packaging can be easily disassembled

Single materials and compatible polymers in packaging

You can increase packaging recycling rates by:

  • using corrugated board on its own instead of cardboard that has previously been combined with expanded polystyrene or plastic
  • eliminating blister packs where possible
  • designing packaging for single polymer use where possible
  • identifying polymers in use clearly - find information about symbols used for different plastics

Minimising contamination in packaging

You can increase packaging recycling rates by:

  • avoiding the use of colourants in plastic packaging wherever possible
  • minimising the use of inks, adhesives and other coatings
  • minimising the use of labels
  • considering making greater use of interlocking tabs on paper
  • incorporating moulded press-studs on plastic packaging, hence avoiding the need for adhesives
  • using easy-to-remove fasteners rather than tape
  • avoiding the use of pressure-sensitive adhesives and cold-seal adhesives on paper and board packaging
  • avoiding the use of plastic and foil laminates and ultraviolet varnishes on paper packaging - eg cartons - unless essential

Making contamination easier to remove from packaging

You can increase packaging recycling rates by:

  • using recycle-friendly adhesives on paper packaging
  • considering using water/acrylic-based emulsions and starch-based coatings on paperboard instead of polyethylene and wax laminates
  • using inorganic vapour-deposition coatings that can also be readily recycled - eg those based on silicon dioxide or aluminium oxide