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A Sustainable Design Blog

Green Blue Launches

by Jennifer Stewart | Sep 23, 2011 | Sustainability

Remember when foods first started carrying the nutrition labels? People were suddenly shocked to find that producers were considering a single muffin to be multiple servings and that a can of supposedly healthy soup could contain 120% of your daily salt intake. I’m expecting a similar shock to take place when Green Blue’s new recycling labels start showing up on packages. While they aren’t law yet, they really should be.

I mentioned the redesign of the recycling label in a previous blog post, and pointed out that the current chasing arrows symbol with a number in the center is far from informative. It's rare that a container or package is made of only one material, so a single recycling symbol doesn't address all components of a package. The new labeling system by Green Blue attempts to address this discrepancy.

The new design "is comprised of five pieces of information for every unique and easily separable packaging component". Simple and easy to read, it tells you what you can recycle and what you can't, and notes when recyclability of a certain material is rare. Green Blue has also launched a new website to promote the use of the new labels and to encourage brand owners and retailers to jump on board. For anyone developing a new product, this is an awesome opportunity to start a new movement and create a bit of press in the process. 

The new website also has consumer information about how to properly recycle materials and where to look for recycling facility information in your area. 

Inevitably there will be those who are underwhelming or even confused by the new label, and that's fine. The sad fact is that recycling is complicated and confusing. While this is something that most sustainability advocates want to avoid admitting, it's a topic that needs to be addressed in order to be solved. Manufacturers have a huge amount of control over that products and packages that flood our stores and homes. It's my hope that these labels become required, just like the nutrition facts label, and that any frustration coming from a label that suggests the difficulty of recycling a product will lead to fewer sales and the motivation that manufacturers need to make more sustainable products.

Jennifer Stewart is the Office Manager and wanna-be organizational psychologist at Modern Species. For more posts from her, click here.

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