Companies Clarify Recycling for Consumers

"Can I recycle both the bottle and its cap?" "Is there any way to bring this back to the store for disposal?" "What does a #3 recyclable symbol actually mean?" These are all questions consumers are faced with on a daily basis when it comes to home recycling. And now, a number of leading brands are banding together to provide clarity to consumers and solve for end-of-life issues.

According to Sustainable Brands, Yoplait*, Estée Lauder and BJ's Wholesale Club are just a few of the major brands working together to launch a new set of voluntary recycling labels intended to decrease consumer confusion, and in turn, increase recycling rates. The new label, developed by environmental nonprofit GreenBlue and aptly named the How2Recycle Label, aims to take the current recycle icon to the next level by incorporating four new label options: Widely Recycled, Limited Recycling/Check Locally, Not Yet Recycled and Store Drop-Off. The label also allows companies to customize icons to include important information like what individual product parts are made of, as well as which components can be recycled and how. Beyond helping consumers better understand how to recycle at home, GreenBlue also hopes the label will give companies the incentive they need to participate in a collaborative labeling initiative that falls in line with Federal Trade Commission Green Guides.

Companies are increasingly seeing the importance of "closing the loop," and many realize the best way to do this is to include consumers in the process. And Americans are primed to take part. According to Cone's 2012 Green Gap Trend Tracker, 42 percent of consumers say they are most influenced by messaging related to the environmental impact of disposing of a product. Easy-to-read, on-pack symbols take the guesswork out of recycling at home, which should in turn bolster recycling rates, increase material recovery, reduce waste and perhaps even create a new industry standard.

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*Cone client

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