Sustainability nonprofit GreenBlue just released details on its 2012 national pilot for a new Packaging Recovery Label System (above), a voluntary label developed by the group’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) to tell consumers how to recycle a package after its use. Major CPGs and retailers ConAgra Foods, Costco Wholesale, Microsoft, REI and Seventh Generation will implement the label on selected packaging nationwide starting in a few months.
The goals of the labeling system: 1) Reduce consumer confusion with clear instructions on how to recycle a package after use, and 2) Develop a consistent, accurate labeling system for companies that adheres to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “Green Guides” using nationally accurate recyclability data. Because recycling systems can vary radically from town to town across the US, each package component is labeled as “widely recycled,” “not yet recycled,” or “limited recycling” with instructions for consumers on how to check what to do about it locally.
To provide a lot more info than three chasing arrows can, GreenBlue also launched a Website for consumers as part of the labeling system: www.how2recycle.info. The site gives help on how to check on recycling locally, as well as data for local governments and packagers interested in getting involved. After the pilot phase, the label will be available to any interested companies to use, GreenBlue says.
My Thoughts: After reporting on developments in the world of packaging (and its recycling) for nearly three decades now, all I can say is “FINALLY.” Finally, a recycling symbol that just might work. Why? Because it’s based on past success with a similar system in the UK and created with the help of three years of research and consumer testing. I know from past trips to the UK and seeing their OPRL symbol on every package I can remember that it’s just about inescapable. Of course, it takes more than a printed symbol to get people to actually DO the recycling, but the right mix of education and information goes a long way.