New Research: Plastic recycling labelling confusing and inconsistent

Today, Consumers International, UNEP and One Planet Network released their global assessment of recycling and sustainability labelling on plastic packaging

The research found only 19% of assessed labels give consumers quality information to make informed recycling and purchasing decisions. In response, we have created five global recommendations for action to engage business, policy makers and standard setters in creating better plastics labelling that make sustainability the easy choice for consumers. 

  1. Businesses following the Guidelines for Providing Product Sustainability Information in their plastic packaging communications. 
  2. Global consistency when it comes to definitions relating to the content and reusability of packaging or disposable items. 
  3. The definitions and technical requirements used in standards related to recyclability, compostability, and biodegradability should better reflect real world conditions and be more attentive to accessibility and consumer understanding. 
  4. The use of the ‘chasing arrows’ symbol should be restricted to indicating recyclability. 
  5. Informative and verified recycling labels should be adopted and their proper use enforced.

What next?

Following the publication of this report, the One Planet network Consumer Information Programme will develop a set of key messages to share with businesses, governments and standard-setters showing what they can do to improve the landscape of consumer information on plastic packaging to reduce confusion.

All outputs of the Consumer Information Programmes’s plastics work will contribute to the One Planet network-wide Plastics Initiative and its guidance document that will be released in the final quarter of 2020, and presented at the United Nations Environment Assembly in February 2021.

See below for ways that you can support the promotion of this report and contribute to the next stage of this programme of work:

  • Share the findings of this report with your networks 
  • Read more about our work on Sustainable Consumption
  • Sign up to our eNewsletter for regular updates on how consumer advocacy taking action
  • Contact us to find how you can be involved in the next stage of our plastic work.

Read the report here.

Consumers International Media Release 20/05/2020.