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  • 01 Feb 2010

Standards and education catalyze innovation

They will likely be based on the current European standards developed by CEN. This could be a big wake up call for many in the US market where environmental standards, for the most part, have been significantly less stringent than our Western friends.   

Yet educating consumers on the right way to recover packaging materials will be the true key to finding success with these standards – after all, a product’s Life Cycle Analysis, including the packaging, is based on its manufacturing trail from natural resource extraction to disposal.  

As an au pair in Germany, one of the rules I quickly learned, from the children no less, was how to properly dispose of our household waste. It was critical that everyone in the household participate correctly because we paid for trash pick-up by weight – financial incentive for the adults and structure for the kids.  

Widespread education on proper waste disposal is on the rise. In the UK, the BRC has found great success with its on-pack recycling label scheme that clearly communicates to the consumer as to which parts of a package can, or cannot, be recycled in their local community. 

The SPC is riding on this successful platform, developing too an on-pack label to increase the recycle reach and rate in the US and Canada. Together with the support of KAB (Keep America Beautiful) and CVP (Curbside Value Partnership), the SPC will soon introduce their winning plans to achieve these goals.  

With each of these standards coming into play, we will no doubt see an increase in recycling facilities capable of handling the many materials that, in the past, have been simply land-filled. Consumers are gaining knowledge and we all know what knowledge is – power. 

Glass and plastic make up fifty percent of packaging by weight for the world’s largest multi-national beverage companies. To help brands help consumers increase recycling rates, they’ll be materials innovation in the label industry. Its leaders will do what they do best: create a solution for their clients. One US converter has already done so by developing a label that can be recycled with PET bottles without contaminating the waste stream in the process. What more will come?

More information can be found in the Environmental Performance and Sustainable Labeling book.


Danielle Jerschefske is Labels & Labeling's sustainability consultant.

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