RECOUP releases its inaugural ‘Reusability by Design’ guidance
February 2, 2034 – Plastics resource efficiency and recycling charity, RECOUP has launched its inaugural edition of ‘Reusability by Design’ guidance. Its purpose 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, and service providers through to waste management companies.
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, the guidance highlights the need for collaboration alongside consideration of the whole value chain needs when designing reusable packaging. The main challenges identified to adopting 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, product visibility, closure type, tamper evidence requirements, and decoration. However, choices on these must be made in collaboration with an acknowledgment 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 considered. In addition, 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.
“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,” commented Katherine Fleet, Head of Sustainability and Circularity at RECOUP. “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.”
RECOUP expressed gratitude to everyone who contributed to the report, whether participation in the survey, workshops, interviews, or supplying packaging samples for testing.
The ‘Reusability by Design’ guidance is available to download.
To learn more about the guidance on design requirements for reusable plastic packaging, join the RECOUP webinar on March 2, 2023.