Following the UNEA-4 Marine Litter and Microplastics Resolution (UNEP/EA.4/RES.6), which called upon the One Planet Network to create a set of "guidelines for the use and production of plastics in order to inform consumers, including about standards and labels", the Consumer Information Programme carried out a global mapping of existing sustainability standards, labels and claims on plastic products. The output of this mapping is the report "Can I Recycle This?"

Implemented in

  • Africa
  • Asia / Pacific
  • Europe and Central Asia
  • Latin America / Caribbean
  • Middle East
  • North America

Sector of activity
Consumer Goods

Type of initiative
Education & Awareness Raising, Research, Analysis, Assessment

Start date
12/11/2020

Objectives

This report provides a global mapping and assessment of standards, labels and claims on plastic packaging. The findings of this report map the current landscape of consumer information, highlighting good practices and areas where action should be taken. An international, cross-sector consultation revealed five key insights and recommendations for clearer and more effective consumer communication on plastic packaging. The report recognises the impact of plastic pollution on the environment and calls for better plastics labelling as a simple and powerful way to reduce plastic pollution.

The next stage of the project is to move forward the report’s five global recommendations for action, working with key strategic partners:
1. Businesses following the Guidelines for Providing Product Sustainability Information in their plastic packaging communications.
2. Global consistency when it comes to definitions relating to the content and reusability of packaging or disposable items.
3. The definitions and technical requirements used in standards related to recyclability, compostability, and biodegradability should better reflect real world conditions and be more attentive to accessibility and consumer understanding.
4. The use of the ‘chasing arrows’ symbol should be restricted to indicating recyclability.
5. Informative and verified recycling labels should be adopted and their proper use enforced.

Activities

As collected through the One Planet Reporting

Output level

Knowledge resource and technical tool

  • Release of "Can I Recycle This?" A Global Mapping and Assessment of Standards, Labels and Claims on Plastic Packaging report

Impact and Results

Following the publication of this report, the One Planet network Consumer Information Programme will develop a set of key messages to share with businesses, governments and standard-setters showing what they can do to improve the landscape of consumer information on plastic packaging to reduce confusion.

All outputs of the Consumer Information Programme's plastics work will contribute to the One Planet network-wide Plastics Initiative and its guidance document that will be released in the final quarter of 2020, and presented at the United Nations Environment Assembly in February 2021.