About the circular economy and global initiatives

Ellen MacArthur Foundation - Global initiative that aims to build a framework for an economy that’s restorative and regenerative by design. Launched New Plastics Economy (see below)

Huge array of resources including a circular economy learning hub, resources including case studies and practical videos, and worksheets that can produce guidance on sustainable packaging design, circularity and reuse.

New Plastics Economy Global Commitment - The New Plastics Economy (launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation) brings together businesses and governments around the world to tackle plastic pollution and build momentum towards a plastic system that works – starting with packaging.

There are over 400 members across all industries - not just food and consumer goods. It is delivered in the UK through the UK Plastics Pact (see below). Good resources including Rethinking the future of plastics and Reuse – rethinking packaging, which is a framework to understand reuse, identifying 6 major benefits of reuse, and mapping 69 reuse examples.

WRAP and the UK Plastics Pact

WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) - Aims to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency through partnerships, research evidence, consumer campaigns.

A hub with useful resources and guides including Eliminating problem plastics, Polymer choice and Recyclability guide, Rigid plastic packaging. Specifically focused on food and consumer goods.

UK Plastics Pact - An initiative launched by WRAP and the Ellen MacArthur foundation to tackle the issue of plastics in the UK. The pact’s focus is to bring together all stakeholders involved in making, using, collecting, sorting, reusing and recycling plastics in order to transform the system. Supported by the government, it aims to generate a fundamental change in the way plastics are designed, produced, used, re-used and disposed.

By 2025, the current 79 members of the Plastic Pact (food and consumer goods retailers, brands and manufacturers) aims to:

  1. Eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative delivery model
  2. 100% of plastics packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
  3. 70% of plastics packaging effectively recycled/composted
  4. 30% average recycled content across plastic packaging An associated roadmap has been developed to support members to achieve the targets – by outlining key activities that could be taken by all parts of the supply chain.

Organisations working on making plastics sustainable

INCPEN (the Industry Council for Research on Packaging and the Environment - Group of manufacturers and retailers from across the supply chain carrying out research to understand the environmental and social effects of packaging and working together to promote resource efficient packaging.

Focused on ensuring that packaging has a sustainable life in line with circular economy principles. INCPEN has some good factsheets on life cycle assessment, recycled materials, reuseable plastic and facts about plastic. There’s also a good sustainability checklist of packaging.

RECOUP - RECycling of Used Plastics Limited (RECOUP) is a registered charity and not-for-profit member-based organisation. Works in collaboration with all stakeholders to promote, develop, stimulate and increase the levels of plastics recycling in the UK.

Membership organisation providing free and member-only resources on plastics waste and resource management including Recyclability By Design and the UK Household Plastics Collection Survey and case studies, as well as brochures and reports about plastics recycling.

UK Circular Plastics Network (UKCPN) - UKCPN aims to bring together the users of plastic products and realise the best means for reducing plastic waste entering the environment.

UKCPN is a two-year programme of networking and knowledge-sharing events and related support activities. It brings together businesses with solutions and facilitates circular supply chain engagement with those solutions.

CEFLEX (a Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging) - Collaborative initiative to further enhance the performance of flexible packaging in the circular economy by designing and advancing better system solutions - EU representatives across supply chain

Useful if you have flexible packaging solutions. CEFLEX has several research projects including:

  • Design Guidelines for flexible packaging in a circular economy
  • Understand/map the European flexible packaging market
  • Identify and develop sustainable end markets for secondary materials.
Some downloadable resources, including key sustainability facts on flexible packaging in Europe.

Packaging industry associations

BPF (British Plastics Federation) - The BPF is the UK plastics trade association supporting members from recyclers, producers, suppliers, processors and machinery manufacturers. Supports the plastics sector and on industry wide issues, such as the circular economy.

Support on understanding the debate about plastic and its positive uses. Good information on the vision of a circular economy.

BBIA (Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association) - BBIA is the UK trade body for companies producing bio-based and biodegradable products and promotes the circular economy.

Comprehensive library relating to issues around the bioeconomy, biomaterials and bioplastics used for packaging and their role and management. These include recent responses to the various UK Government consultations on waste, packaging and standards.

Labelling - communicating recyclability of products

(OPRL) On-Pack Recycling Label - OPRL gives a simple, consistent and UK-wide recycling message on both retailer and brand packaging to help consumers recycle more material, more often.

Membership organisation focused on recycling labelling. Supports a members’ hub with practical advice including a recyclable packaging design tool. They host a Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal – PREP that advises whether a packaging design is recyclable or why it isn’t – or only recyclable at reduced value. Useful for packaging designers and specifiers to modify designs or materials before commissioning procurement and production.

Consumer awareness

Recycle Now - A consumer awareness campaign that encourages people in the UK to recycle more things, more often, from all around the home.

Operated by WRAP, the campaign provides consumer information on recycling and how to reduce the amount of waste produced and use resources in an efficient way.

Waste management industry

(LARAC) Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee - LARAC represents local authority views in waste and recycling issues, influencing UK waste policy for the benefit of its members in a manner which advances the waste and resource industry.

Portal for news and events focused on the end use of products and effective recycling and resource management.