CPI Design for Recyclability Guidelines: Setting Standards for Sustainable Fibre-Based Packaging Products

28 February 2024

The Design for Recyclability Guidelines, an initiative by the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI), continues to play a leading role by setting standards and shaping the future of fibre-based packaging products.

Originally introduced to provide direction and encourage resource-efficient recycling of fibre-based packaging products, the fourth edition of the Guidelines builds upon the success of the previous publications. It marks a significant step forward towards a circular economy, and drawing on practical experience and expertise from the Paper Industry it reaffirms CPI's commitment to enhancing the recyclability of fibre-based packaging. 

In the latest publication, the Guidelines aim to inspire the next generation of packaging products and technological progress. The policy section has been thoroughly reviewed to reflect current developments, while a comprehensive overview of the different sources of contamination provides insights to improve the quality of recyclate. Feedback from external stakeholders and industry experts was invaluable and further promoted dialogue to drive sustainable practices across the sector.

This fourth edition encourages packaging designers and specifiers to limit non-paper components in new products to 5% of the pack weight, a recommendation designed to complement other guidance within the document. While ambitious, this design target reflects advancements in fibre-based packaging technology, and it is not a strict determinant of recyclability; each packaging product requires individual assessment. 

For this purpose, and as a result of the upcoming legislative changes and innovation in material development, CPI has created a separate entity, Papercycle, an automated recyclability assessment tool, which provides a robust and comprehensive system tailored for fibre-based products and materials. Since its official launch nearly a year ago, Papercycle has become an invaluable tool in product development, removing the uncertainty faced by brands and manufacturers on the recyclability of their products. 

Dimitra Rappou, Executive Director – Sustainable Products at CPI, said: “Our commitment to promoting the sustainability agenda within the fibre-based packaging industry remains steadfast with the release of the fourth edition of the Design for Recyclability Guidelines. By prioritising innovation and collaboration, we are setting the parameters for future packaging design and sustainable packaging practices, while also inspiring the next generation of packaging solutions.”


For further information, in the first instance, contact Elisse Hare ([email protected]). 



  •  The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) is the leading trade association representing the UK’s Paper-based Industries, comprising paper and board manufacturers and converters, corrugated packaging producers, makers of soft tissue papers, and collectors of paper for recycling. CPI represents an industry with an aggregate annual turnover of £11.5 billion, with 56,000 direct and a further 93,000 indirect employees.

  • Papercycle has been developed by CPI and supported by the UK’s Paper-based Industries. Papercycle’s automated online tool was developed to provide a robust, comprehensive system to assess the recyclability of fibre-based products and materials in a consistent and credible way. Recyclability can be tested at any stage, be it finished or semi-finished products. 

In this section