Paper-based packaging recyclability guidelines

Feb 18, 2020

How can the value chain, including retailers and brand owners, specify and design paper-based packaging to support the recycling process?

There is a growing expectation from consumers, brands and retailers that the packaging they use is recyclable, as part of a global ecodesign approach to reduce its impact on the environment. Producers and recyclers of paper-based packaging are committed to delivering on this expectation.

A primary function of packaging is to protect the packed goods during the logistics chain until their final consumption in order to avoid product loss and food waste. Another important function is the communication to the consumer. Paper is always recyclable but some functional properties expected from the packaging require it to be in some cases coated, laminated or treated in other ways in order to meet the different barriers or functional requirements (e.g. for food contact) which can be more challenging for the recycling process. The combination of paper and board with other materials must therefore be implemented in a way that does not hamper recycling, while ensuring that the expected role of packaging is fulfilled.

The recommendations here in will allow the value chain, including retailers and brand owners, to improve the recyclability of paper packaging products in the paper recycling process.

These recommendations are generally applicable in Europe, however it is recommended that national Extended Producer Responsibility schemes or relevant bodies are referred to in order to ensure the recyclability of the packaging on the targeted markets and to comply with specific national protocols for assessing recyclability of packaging. National protocols are divergent due to the presence of different collection systems and requirements for collection in the paper and board stream. While national specificities continue to exist, steps towards a harmonisation of recyclability test methods are underway. The recommendations below should be communicated widely to the value chain, including retailers and brand owners, to further improve paper packaging recyclability and help meet national protocols and requirements. The undersigned organisations will continue the open dialogue in the value chain to assess developments in material and recycling technology in order to review these guidelines, as appropriate.

Download the guidelines here.

For more information about Recyclability, please contact Ulrich Leberle, Cepi Raw Materials Director at