OPRL (On-Packaging Recycling Label) has welcomed the government’s announcement of plans for labelling under EPR for packaging, saying the decision to adopt the recycling ‘swoosh’ and consumer information around recycling offers important continuity that will help to drive recycling participation.

Executive Director Margaret Bates described the move as reassuring. She said: “Consumers need clear messages, and this commitment to familiar imagery and messaging will help to avoid any confusion. It is also encouraging to see that Defra, the devolved administrations and OPRL members – including many international brands – understand the value of the label.”

From 2026, brand owners and importers will be required to label the majority of packaging products with a label instructing consumers to ‘Recycle’ or ‘Do Not Recycle’, and an accompanying logo. While the ‘swoosh’ and instructions will be mandatory, packaging producers can choose whether to manage the application themselves, or sign up to a scheme.

Asked about Government’s decision to offer the logo free of charge, Bates was unconcerned. “Our ongoing engagement with Defra means this outcome was not surprising. Instead, OPRL is focused on helping our members to prepare, by assessing the recyclability of their packaging, and navigating the intricacies of labelling.

“You could compare it to filling out a tax return – it is possible to do it yourself, but if you are looking for a guarantee that you have ticked every box, then it is safer to hire an accountant. Managing labelling requirements for a vast range of products is challenging; getting it wrong can have a huge impact on consumer relations, as well as the regulatory consequences.”

At the recent ‘visioning sprint’ for EPR, organised by Defra to explore stakeholders’ vision for EPR in 10 years’ time, Bates responded to questions from businesses on the impact of labelling rules. She concluded: “The sprint was a welcome opportunity to provide up to date information, and our members were relieved to find that the existing OPRL labels will still be applicable as part of the mandatory labelling system.”

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