UK-EPR-2026-+-2027-New recycling-labeling

The UK enhances its recycling efforts with the introduction of mandatory recycling labeling for packaging from 2026. Being part of the extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme, this initiative aims to lead consumers towards better disposal practices for packaging materials. 

UK EPR 2026 + 2027: Timeline and Scope

Phase 1, starting March 31, 2026

All primary and shipment packaging, except for plastic films and flexibles, will require recyclability labeling. 

Phase 2, starting March 31, 2027

The requirement extends to all types of packaging, anticipating advancements in recycling processes for complex materials. 


UK EPR 2026 + 2027: What is mandatory? How to fulfill?

There are two options as to which labels can be used: 

1. Use Defra-designed labels:

Defra acquired a licence agreement with WRAP, to use the Recycle Now logo in Defra-designed labels. This licence agreement will come into force when ‘The Main EPR Regulations’ come into force, which is expected in mid/late-2024. This means that the labels become applicable, free of charge, for producers when ‘The Main EPR Regulations’ was fully implemented. 

Defra will only have 2 labelling options, which will simply state:  

  • ‘Recycle’  
  • ‘Do not recycle’

The label pictograms have not yet been published and cannot be used until ‘The Main EPR Regulations’ come into force. 

2. Use On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) labels:

OPRL is a widely recognised labelling scheme which utilises the Recycle Now logo, from an existing licence agreement with WRAP. A producer can join this labelling scheme, as a member, in advance of the pEPR requirements and the Defra labels becoming available.  

OPRL have a recyclability tool to allow producers to choose the right recycling label for their packaging, and a variety of labels available to help the consumer decide what to do with packaging, such as:  

  • ‘Recycle’  
  • ‘Don’t recycle’  
  • ‘Recycle with bags at large supermarket’  
  • ‘Widely recycled at recycling centres’  

Producers can become a member of OPRL and use these labels now. 

Implications for E-Commerce

The new recycling labeling regulations will have significant implications for the e-commerce sector. Online retailers and brands shipping or selling products in or to the United Kingdom will need to ensure their packaging complies with the new requirements. This could lead to a redesign of packaging designs and materials to ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties. Additionally, it presents an opportunity to shine as an environmentally conscious business by supporting recycling and informing customers about how to responsibly dispose of products. 

Do you have questions?

Don’t worry, we’ll be happy to help you. Just ask us free of charge! Our team of experts will get back to you as soon as possible!


Guiding Consumers with Clear Labeling

The collaboration between the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) will see the Recycle Now logo becoming a staple on packaging. This move, alongside the option for producers to align with the On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) scheme, empowers consumers with clear recycling instructions. 

A Commitment to Environmental Stewardship

This labeling regulation underscores the UK’s dedication to reducing packaging waste and fostering sustainable consumer habits. By making recycling guidelines straightforward and accessible, the initiative promises to elevate recycling rates and drive environmental consciousness. 


As the UK gears up for these changes, the anticipation for more detailed guidelines from Defra grows. This landmark regulation signifies a critical step towards responsible packaging use and proactive consumer participation in recycling efforts. We will of course keep you up to date!