New postcode-based recycling tool aims to clear up waste and confusion for UK consumers

By Austyn King 8-Dec-2021

The Recycle Router from Provenance and Valpak allows Brits to check which packaging materials are recyclable in their area

The festive season is officially underway, and with a plethora of eco-friendly gifting options and sustainable packaging promises on offer, beauty brands and shoppers alike are keener than ever to celebrate responsibly – however, the shadow of 'eco-guilt' threatens to be a party pooper, as consumer confusion caused by the UK's recycling system is resulting in more unnecessary waste and almost half of Brits feeling guilty that they do not recycle enough, according to a 2020 survey by Signify.

Currently, different councils across the UK collect different types of waste, meaning there are no national guidelines for which materials can be recycled, while almost two-thirds of UK shoppers have admitted that they don't know what the most widely used recycling symbols on product packaging represent – factors which result in packaging going to landfill unnecessarily.

Now, however, Brits can easily check how to recycle packaging in their area with the new Recycle Router from sustainability solutions company Provenance and environmental compliance scheme Valpak, in partnership with recycling charity WRAP.

Users can enter their postcode into the tool, available via QR code and online, to see which materials can be recycled via their kerbside collection service, as well as the nearest centre that will process a particular packaging material, in a bid to address the additional 30% of waste generated during the holiday season as well as boosting the country's less desirable recycling rates – currently ranked 12th in Europe.

With almost 80% of consumers today prioritising social responsibility and environmental impact in their purchasing decisions, according to data from Capgemini, beauty and personal care brands can employ the service to inform shoppers how to dispose of their packaging responsibly, including those that use mixed or unique materials.

Jessi Baker, CEO and founder of Provenance, commented: “Brands making genuine and significant investments in positive social and environmental impact, including sustainable packaging, are unable to cut through the noise of unfounded and inconsistent impact claims.

“Recycle Router allows brands to differentiate themselves at the point of purchase by claiming credit for genuine recyclability while empowering shoppers with clear, localised guidance on packaging disposal options.”

The service also aims to help businesses get ahead of the upcoming Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation, set to come into force in 2023, which rules that all packaging must be clearly and consistently labelled to inform consumers whether it can be recycled.

Steve Gough, CEO of Valpak, added:  “As a strategic partner to leading brands and retailers and a champion of robust recycling and waste programmes, we’re thrilled to partner with an organisation like Provenance working at the forefront of sustainability and technology.

“We’ve heard from brands who want to take greater ownership of their products’ post-purchase impact. With Provenance, we’re excited to be enabling this by solving regional inconsistencies and easing shopper confusion with actionable instructions.”

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The Recycle Router is being rolled out now for Provenance's current brand and retail customers – which include the likes of retailer Cult Beauty as well as food and beverage companies Fonterra and Pernod Ricard – while the company aims to expand the solution to a broader range of customers throughout 2022.

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