Even though a package is labeled as “recyclable,” it doesn’t mean you can just toss it and forget it.
You’re a consumer goods manufacturer, and you’ve invested time and effort into making sure your
product’s packaging is sustainable. For example, perhaps you’ve worked with a packaging supplier
to develop a flexible package that can be recycled, and you’ve labeled it as such to let consumers
know they can recycle the package. If the consumer doesn’t get this package into the correct
recycling stream, there is a chance it may not be recycled at all. Despite your best efforts and those of the consumer, this package could end up in a landfill. So what are we missing?
All politics (and recycling!) are local.
As of today, recycling capabilities vary from one municipality to the next. Items destined for
recycling are commonly put into one container and delivered to these facilities to be sorted and,
when possible, recycled. Items not capable of being recycled at one facility are sometimes
forwarded on to a secondary facility where the material may be accepted, but just as often this
‘rejected’ material is sent to landfills.
Consumers need some direction as to how to place recyclables into the correct ‘stream’ to ensure
recycling takes place. Fortunately there are multiple organizations looking to help companies and
consumers route recyclables to the correct stream. One of these is ‘how2recycle.info’. This
organization has developed a standardized labeling system to show consumers how to recycle a
Here’s what a ‘how2recycle.info’ label would look like for our hypothetical
flexible packaging container. You can see right up top the label directs
consumers to make sure the package is ‘clean and dry’ before recycling. The
mid-section of the label indicates ‘store drop-off’ as the preferred way to
ensure the package gets to the right facility. The bottom portion of the label
provides information on the package type and material composition.
There are multiple ‘how2recycle.info’ graphics available, depending on the
package type and the material the package is made from. There are even
labels available for packaging with multiple components, like a label or inner
pouch. Companies wishing to have the graphics applied to their packaging
must apply for membership with ‘how2recycle.info’ and then submit
packaging to the organization for evaluation of recyclability. Visit their web
site to learn more.