Packaging Myths: Don’t Believe Everything on Product Labels

Packaging Myths: Don’t Believe Everything on Product Labels

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Recycling is probably the most fundamental environmental motion, however it’s not so simple as you suppose. We’re nonetheless a lot better at recycling packaging than merchandise, however packaging is all wrapped up in advertising and marketing, and that may generate loads of confusion. That’s an issue as a result of 55% of consumers depend on packaging labels to find out recyclability. Here are 5 myths about labels yow will discover on product packaging.

The expiration date on the bundle is the day a product will go unhealthy.

Food waste is a huge global problem, and the expiration or sell-by dates on meals packaging contribute rather a lot to it. If you throw meals away as quickly because the date on the bundle comes round, you might be throwing away loads of completely edible meals. Except for infant formula, these dates are usually not regulated. And except it’s deli meat or comfortable cheese, the date most likely has nothing to do with food safety (though taste could also be barely affected). In 2019, a bill was introduced to Congress that will have required standardized labeling with one high quality date indicator and one security date indicator. But that’s so far as it went. So for now, your personal finest judgment continues to be the perfect information for keeping food fresh and deciding when to toss it.

You can belief sustainability claims on packaging.

We depend on packaging to assist us shop our values, however it’s not all the time a reliable supply. Only a couple of packaging claims are regulated – “made in the USA” is one, and so is “nontoxic” (however just for sure product classes). There are quite a few certification programs, every with totally different requirements; some, like “USDA Organic,” are regulated, some are third-party verified, and a few of them don’t imply a lot. Most labels are merely advertising and marketing phrases. When you see unhazardous (apart from the particularly regulated product classes), pure, sustainable, and different generic phrases on a bundle, it’s virtually all the time a type of greenwashing.

If a bundle doesn’t embody the recycling image, it isn’t recyclable.

A survey by the Carton Council evaluated client concepts about packaging. They discovered that 74% of customers would assume you’ll be able to’t recycle any bundle and not using a recycling image. We are much more accustomed to spotting greenwashing, however typically firms don’t promote their eco-friendly behaviors. It’s risky for firms to inaccurately declare recyclability, and with the recycling business in turmoil lately, for some firms, leaving the label off could appear safer. Because the environmental motion has unlucky associations with sacrifice, poor aesthetics, and even “unmanliness,” some firms could worry that any environmental claims will intervene with a model picture emphasizing luxurious, excessive quality, or masculinity.

Plastic recycling codes on product containers
Just as a result of there’s a plastic recycling code on a container, don’t assume you’ll be able to recycle it — verify together with your native recycling service. Image: Z22, CC BY-SA 3.0, by way of Wikimedia Commons

You can all the time recycle packages marked with the recycling image.

The universal recycling symbol tells you a product or bundle is recyclable or was made with recycled content material. There needs to be textual content someplace on the bundle to inform you which of those circumstances is true, however there is no such thing as a regulation about it. Even if it’s clear that the image is there to point {that a} bundle is recyclable, it doesn’t imply that your native utility will settle for it for recycling. Many supplies which might be technically recyclable are not profitable on the recyclable commodities market. And each neighborhood’s recycling program is totally different. Some cities require their recyclers to simply accept unprofitable supplies, not all of them do. You need to familiarize your self together with your native utility’s recycling program.

Pay specific attention to plastic. Even although plastic is much less typically recyclable than different supplies, all plastic packages bear the recycling image. That’s due to the numbers contained in the chasing arrows. Those are resin identification codes (RICs) – numbers that point out the kind of plastic from which the merchandise is made. Recyclers want these codes to find out whether or not and find out how to recycle a plastic merchandise. Most states require them on all plastics no matter recyclability. If your native program recycles plastic in any respect, they most likely solely take plastic #1 and #2.

Recycling labels are standardized.

Product labeling is a free-for-all, and you’ll’t belief the common recycling image. Then it needs to be no shock that recycling labels are usually not standardized. Aside from plastic, it’s fairly exhausting to know what a recycling image (or its absence) means. We really want higher labeling. Enter the How2Recycle label system. GreenBlue developed the How2Recycle labeling system to speak full, constant info customers might use to correctly recycle packaging. They encourage firms to take part by serving to them make their packages extra recyclable.

How2Recycle labels present loads of info in a typical format. They embody info on making ready a bundle for efficient recycling; how extensively recycling is accessible for the kind of bundle; which class of fabric the bundle belongs to; and which a part of the bundle the image refers to.