Technological watch

RECOUP launches reusability guide

Plastics resource efficiency and recycling charity, RECOUP, has announced the launch of the inaugural edition of ‘Reusability by Design’ guidance, the aim of which is to assist stakeholders with the design of reusable plastic packaging that meets the needs of the value chain from packaging manufacturers, packer/fillers, brands, retailers, consumers, service providers through to waste management companies. × RECOUP report The guidance has been produced as a workstream of the UKRI funded TRACE (Technology-enabled Reusable Assets for a Circular Economy) project, led by Pragmatic, with RECOUP, The University of Sheffield, Topolytics, AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) and Ken Mills Engineering as partners. Project TRACE aims to address some of the challenges that currently prevent large-scale reuse, such as consumer perception of reusable packaging, traceability of packaging and the lack of design guidance available.

Based on research, surveys, workshops and interviews, RECOUP claims the guidance highlights the need for collaboration alongside consideration of the whole value chains needs when designing reusable packaging. The main challenges identified to the adoption of reusable packaging on a large scale to be addressed by design were, ensuring customer uptake, implementation cost and traceability.

The guidance details a number of technical characteristics that must be considered at the design stage of reusable packaging, including material choice and durability, size and shape of the packaging, visibility of the product, closure type, tamper evidence requirements and decoration. However, choices on these must be made in collaboration with an acknowledgement of consumer needs, food safety, washing and cleaning requirements and impact on transportation. The design implications on end-of-life scenarios for the packaging, when it leaks or leaves the reuse system must also be taken into consideration.  In addition, RECOUP claims the guidance includes a comprehensive review of how tracking technologies have been used within reuse systems, for food and drink produced by The University of Sheffield.

Katherine Fleet, Head of Sustainability and Circularity at RECOUP said: “Reuse represents a key element of achieving the circular economy for packaging and while we have seen the implementation of a number of small-scale trials of reuse systems, large-scale implementation has not yet been achieved. It is hoped that these guidelines, which reflect stakeholder’s views, along with the wider findings of project TRACE, will assist with progress towards a world where reuse is more commonplace for packaging.”

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Publication date: 03/02/2023

European Plastic Product Manufacturer

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31