New packaging recovery label bids to bring clarity and consistency

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

New label will bring clarity and consistency - and help to combat greenwashing, says the SPC
New label will bring clarity and consistency - and help to combat greenwashing, says the SPC

Related tags: Sustainable packaging, Packaging, Packaging and labeling, Sustainable packaging coalition

A new packaging recovery label to be rolled out next year in the US will help industry comply with federal guidelines, boost recycling rates and ease consumer confusion over how best to recycle materials, said sustainability non-profit group GreenBlue.

The body announced its Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), had launched a pilot voluntary programme for the label in response to what it described as “anaemic”​ US recovery rates, frequent ‘greenwashing’ by brand owners, a lack of national leadership on the issue and the inconsistent local systems in place across the nation’s 50 states.

The system, which took three years to develop, has been based on the UK’s On-Pack Recycling Label.

Consistent

In a report written to accompany the initiative, GreenBlue said that while a well-designed system already existed in Europe, the US lacked a comprehensive equivalent.

“Instead the many existing packaging recovery labels are confusing inconsistent across material types, and regularly applied to only certain packaging materials or packaging components,”​ said the group in its study Labeling for Packaging Recovery.

The report highlights the importance of the role of consumers in boosting recovery and recycling rates of packaging and said that provision of clear, transparent and easy-to-follow information on packaging was vital to this.

Harmonisation

The label, which companies such as ConAgra and Costco Wholesale have agreed to use on select packaging nationwide in 20102, will contain five pieces of information for each unique and separable packaging component.

It will include the almost universally-known three-arrow ‘recyclability icon’ and will identify the material in the packaging clearly. The packaging component – referring to the specific part of the package referenced by the label – will also be clearly flagged up.

There will be specific instructions for consumers to ensure successful recycling and a reference to the programme’s dedicated website, www.how2recycle.info​.

“Consumers are faced with a confusing landscape of recycling messages and instructions that are often inconsistent or misleading,”​ said GreenBlue project manager Anne Bedarf. “We believe this label will create a harmonized system that will help consumers and companies contribute to more effective resource recovery.”

The system, which took three years to develop, has been based on the UK’s On-Pack Recycling Label.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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