Although Americans have been recycling for decades, the U.S. recycling rate still hovers around 34 percent. Companies, government agencies and nonprofits have all done their part to educate consumers, but there's still work to be done. In fact, 28 percent of Americans say they'll only recycle items they already know are recyclable and just one in five will do additional research to find out whether or not an item is recyclable if it is not clearly labeled. Now, one appliance company is leading the charge in its industry, ensuring consumers can easily identify what can be recycled from its packaging with an easy-to-understand label.
This week, Whirlpool Corporation announced a new partnership with recycling labeling system How2Recycle to help consumers understand how its packaging can be recycled. The label, which has been gaining traction in recent years due to partnerships with major brands such as REI and McDonald's, clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public. The on-package label explains the type of material the package is made out of, gives detailed recycling instructions such as "Remove Label Before Recycling," or "Recycle If Clean & Dry" and even clarifies if only a specific portion of the packaging is recyclable, such as an insert, wrap or tray. The extra information is already making an impact. How2Recycle states 50 percent of respondents in a recent survey reported changing their behavior based off of what they learned from the packaging labeling system. For Whirlpool, the label allows the brand to better "inform homeowners on the best way to manage and eliminate waste," according to Ron Voglewede, Global Sustainability Director at Whirlpool Corporation.
Although How2Recycle has been adopted by more than 50 companies, Whirlpool is the first in the appliance industry to embrace the label, launching it beyond small items like food, cleaning products or clothing. In turn, Whirlpool's initiative will help consumers to think outside – and inside – the box about what can and should be recycled. As more industries adopt and market How2Recycle, consumers can begin to understand the breadth of items in their everyday lives that can go in the recycling bin.