What Is Recyclable Packaging? The Importance Of Education

What is recyclable packaging? This is a question that continues to puzzle many people and thwart attempts to improve recycling outcomes in the UK and around the world.

According to research commissioned by personal care brand, Nivea, one in three consumers are confused about which of their bathroom products can and can’t be recycled – which stops them from recycling them at all. Meanwhile, data from WRAP shows that 57% of UK households are prone to ‘missed capture’ (items in the home that can be recycled but are missed). 

Knowledge about recyclable packaging is not only crucial for consumers – for the good of our planet – it’s vital for businesses too. Businesses need to ensure they’re acting in an environmentally responsible manner by embracing sustainable packaging, to boost their green credentials and meet the sustainability expectations of their consumers.

Education about what constitutes recyclable packaging – and how to properly dispose of it – is key for consumers and businesses alike, and the onus is on companies such as Nivea and packaging suppliers like Cambrian to communicate the appropriate information to their customers and guide them towards more eco-friendly packaging solutions and behaviours.

Read on to discover more about what recyclable packaging actually is, why education on the subject is so important for business success and how Cambrian can guide you towards greener packaging solutions.

What Is Recyclable Packaging?

Recyclable packaging is packaging that can be collected, processed and returned to use in the form of raw materials or new products.

Plastic packaging must meet four criteria to be considered recyclable: 

  1. It must be manufactured from plastic that is collected for recycling.
  2. It must be sorted into defined streams for recycling purposes.
  3. It can be processed and recycled with commercial recycling processes.
  4. The recycled plastic becomes a raw material that is used in the production of new products.

A product’s recyclability depends both on the material it’s made of and whether or not the infrastructure is in place to collect, sort and recycle the material effectively. If it’s made from a single polymer material such as PET or HDPE, then it’s fully recyclable. If a product is made of multiple polymers and materials, then recycling becomes much more complicated. 

The Importance Of Education

image showing recyclable packaging ID codes

Being educated about recyclable packaging is vitally important, not only for the good of our planet and the improvement of recycling initiatives, but for the commercial success of your business. 

If you want to know the type of plastic your product is made from, simply look at the symbols (the resin ID codes) on the bottom of the packaging. There are seven in all and although they won’t tell you definitively if your product is recyclable or not, knowing what the Resin ID codes mean can help you identify your packaging’s recyclable potential and allow you to dispose of it correctly, as well as help you work out if that product is a good fit for your business and your sustainability agenda.

As a society, we’re all increasingly aware of the damage plastic pollution is doing to our planet and the importance of recycling in helping to mitigate it. However, research – and indeed poor recycling outcomes – continue to tell us that many people are none the wiser about what the labels (or resin ID codes) on their plastic packaging mean for a product’s recyclable potential.

Increasing consumer awareness and education is a key sustainable packaging trend disrupting the industry this year. Consumers now expect their brands to adopt sustainable packaging solutions and working practices across the board, including communicating to their customers whether or not they can recycle their packaging and how to responsibly dispose of it. 

Failure to keep up with consumer expectations and demand can, in the long run, be detrimental to your business (you can read more about why it’s important to be a sustainable business in our previous blog).

Businesses play a key role in educating consumers about recyclable packaging – but it’s important that businesses stay educated too! At Cambrian, we believe it’s a crucial part of our role to help our customers meet the sustainability expectations of their clients by supplying top quality eco-friendly packaging solutions, as well as helping them keep abreast of the constantly evolving UK government legislation such as Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) and EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility).

What Can Your Business Do To Educate Consumers?

We’ve established that educating consumers about recyclable packaging is crucial to mitigating our climate emergency – as well as boosting your company’s own green credentials and meeting your customers’ expectations.

In the research commissioned by Nivea, two out of five respondents (39.46%) said more explicit instructions on the packaging would encourage them to recycle their bathroom waste more often.

Making labelling much clearer is certainly a great way to educate customers about whether or not their packaging is recyclable. At Cambrian, many of our products – including our spray bottles, jerry cans and tubs and pails have large labelling areas, giving you plenty of space to promote and enhance your brand identity, while also providing clear information about the type of plastic your packaging is made from and instructions for how to recycle it. 

Using smart packaging technologies to make product information and labelling much clearer is another sustainable packaging trend on the rise! Many companies are now embedding packages with technologies such QR codes, NFC (Near Field Communication), or RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) to provide consumers with clear information about a product – including its origins, ingredients, and sustainability credentials. 

Adopting clearer, more informative labelling and the use of smart technologies will not only give consumers greater confidence to recycle the correct products, it’ll give them greater confidence that their brands are acting in a sustainable way and doing all they can to find the best plastic pollution solutions.

How Cambrian Can Help: Trailblazing & Tailormade Sustainable Packaging Solutions

image showing recyclable packaging solutions from cambrian

At Cambrian, we believe that as your next-gen packaging supplier, we have a responsibility to guide our customers towards more sustainable packaging solutions – both for the good of our planet and for your business.

Our groundbreaking Ecycle™ range, which is made of 100% recycled content and our Zero PPT range, which contains at least 30% recycled materials, are fast becoming some of our most popular products – and we’re adding to them all the time! Meanwhile, our outstanding Minerva trigger is made from a single polyolefin (a group of plastics from the same family), so that too can be recycled in its entirety using standard plastic recycling processes.

Working out which of our exceptional sustainable packaging solutions is the best fit for your business can be a minefield, so we offer a fully comprehensive service that we call our 5-Step process, to guide you every step of the way.

  1. FREE consultation – a personalised packaging consultation that gets to grips with your unique business requirements.
  2. Current packaging analysis – to ascertain chemical compatibility, level of recyclability and how it reflects your brand values.
  3. Specify an upgrade to more sustainable and cost effective packaging alternatives that are tailor-made for your exact requirements.
  4. Send out FREE samples of these alternatives for you to test independently against your product, to make sure your product and ours fit perfectly. You can also order free samples of any of our products online at any time.
  5. Deliver your new packaging directly to you – our next-day delivery service provides some of the shortest lead times on the market!


To find out more about how we can help you upgrade to greener packaging, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.