US groups putting recycling instructions on packaging

The Consumer Brands Association and The Recycling Partnership are teaming up to provide American consumers with up-to-date, localized recycling instructions directly on product packaging.

SmartLabel, Consumer Brands’s digital QR code labeling platform lets consumers can scan the thousands of products already using SmartLabel to access The Recycling Partnership’s Recycle Check, a package-specific, data-driven solution to help navigate the complex recycling system.

“Consumer confusion about recycling capabilities in their neighbourhoods has been a longstanding challenge,” said Rishi Banerjee, senior director of SmartLabel at Consumer Brands.

“The new ability to integrate Recycle Check local recycling information into SmartLabel means consumers can find out exactly how to recycle products in the zip code where they live – eliminating common questions about what is accepted for recycling and whether the cap should stay on, or a label should be peeled off.”

For SmartLabel products now integrating Recycle Check, consumers can scan the QR code on the package, then enter their zip code or allow location permissions to access clear instructions on how and whether to recycle that product in their specific location. 

The current, fragmented recycling framework across the US has resulted in a patchwork of nearly 10,000 local recycling programs throughout the country, each with their own set of rules. According to research from The Partnership, 78% of respondents look at packaging labels to know whether a product is recyclable, but 63% still report confusion even after looking at the label.

“Recycling confusion is a key factor in the two-thirds of household recyclables wasted each year. With eight in ten people saying recycling is worth the effort, we have an opportunity to provide clarity to combat the loss of recyclables,” said Sarah Dearman, chief innovation officer at The Partnership.

“Providing clear, dynamic recycling information will be especially important as state-level policies change recyclability claims requirements.”

Consumer products companies have already begun announcing plans to utilize Recycle Check, as Consumer Brands encourages the further adoption of SmartLabel.

“Consumer Brands appreciates The Recycling Partnership’s development of a new tool that can work in conjunction with SmartLabel to provide consumers with the information they need to ensure their recycling efforts line up with the rules specific to where they live,” Banerjee said.

“I’m confident our collaboration on this issue will help move America’s recycling rates in the right direction, and I look forward to integrating even more valuable resources into SmartLabel in the future.”