For many goods worldwide, it may surprise you that there is no standardised legislation set in place to put recycling labels on branded packaging. It is an optional choice for businesses who may wish to provide customers with greater information on how to recycle their products. The recycling label initiative began in 1970 when the iconic triple arrow label was first introduced. With a variation of recycling programmes within countries and around the world, it creates inconsistencies which has now become a major cause of consumer confusion. How2Receycle is the next generation of recycling labelling in the US aimed to make this process clear, consistent and concise. In 2012, the non-profit sustainable packaging coalition offered a solution with information about how consumers can recycle a whole product and not just part of it. This month the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) launched some exciting news about their additional label programme – the How2Compost initiative.
How2Recycle ( @How2Recycle ) is a standardised labelling system authorised by the Federal Trade Commission Green Guide that clearly communicates recycling instructions to consumers. It now involves over 55 forward thinking brands who want their packaging to be recycled and are empowering consumers through simple yet instructive packaging labels. Each section of the label represents a different part of the package which allows consumers to know how to recycle the different materials. The information on each How2Recycle label is provided by technical insights from Association of Plastic Recyclers, Recycled Paperboard Alliance and other insightful industry experts. However, the label doesn’t appear on every product because brands have to opt to use it and then pay for it. Some of the most well-known brands which have signed up for the initiative include:
- Seventh Generation
- Estee Lauder
- Walmart - see BioBased World News’ extended article here on this recent alliance.
How2Recycle's largest labelling competitors in the US are Ecologo and Green Seal which are the highest ranking companies from International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). Since its establishment in 1988, Ecologo has been recognised or referenced in more than 350 specifications and standards. Green Seal have had a similar success catering for thousands of products and services in hundreds of categories across the country. But How2Recycle are not far behind in the four years that they have been in business. The How2Recycle label is growing steadily. A successful breakthrough was made with their new alliance Walmart who will be supporting the labels in the coming months. By joining How2Recycle, Walmart's suppliers are able to use the programme’s on-package recycling label to communicate to consumers how to recycle different types of packaging.
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The latest innovative How2Compost ( @How2Compost ) label was developed by the same corporations in conjunction with the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), the leading compostable packaging certification programme. Every package featuring How2Compost is either certified compostable by BPI, or contains a certified product so consumers can trust that it has gone through required testing and is third-party verified to comply with standards in industrial composting facilities.
“Compostable products and packaging are continuing to go mainstream, in step with communities and businesses that are diverting food scraps from disposal to composting,” says Rhodes Yepsen, Executive Director of BPI. “As such, consumers are becoming more familiar with compostable products at restaurants, sports and music venues, schools, etc., and increasingly on retail shelves. The How2Compost and How2Recycle labels provide a uniform platform for communicating to the public about end of life options, which is particularly critical when the package and product are designed for different recovery streams, one for recycling and the other composting, to ensure they end up in the right collection bin.”
How2Compost can be used seamlessly next to the How2Recycle label on packaging, for instances where a package can either be recycled or composted, or has some components that are compostable and some that are recyclable. It offers directions on appropriate composting, and includes the URL how2compost.info for further information.
“We have been working diligently over the past two years to bring a thoroughly vetted and consumer-tested How2Compost Label to the marketplace, with the goal of helping composters receive clean streams of material required for appropriate compost manufacturing,” explains SPC Senior Manager Anne Bedarf. “As the nationwide focus on food waste and composting increases, the How2Compost Label is poised to provide an important educational tool for the public on not just compostable packaging, but also the value of compost manufacturing infrastructure nationwide.”
The How2Compost programme has already announced its first members, Reynolds Consumer Products and Eco-Products. Reynolds, makers of Reynolds Wrap foil and rubbish will be using the How2Compost label on selected Hefty disposable tableware products. And Eco-Products will begin to use How2Compost in conjunction with How2Recycle on its compostable product packaging.
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