Sustainable Packaging Coalition to launch new recycling label program

The current resin code for recycling plastics definitely has consumers confused

It’s challenging for consumers to know which numbered plastic bottle or container is recyclable and which isn’t these days, especially with the new types of plastic that are hitting the market.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition plans to launch a voluntary labeling pilot program that they hope will eliminate the confusion about all the resin numbers we have to contend with.

The labeling system will classify packaging as “widely recycled”, “not recyclable” or “with limited recycling” — meaning consumers will need to check to see whether it’s recycled in their area. The labels will not address any recycled content the package may or may not contain.

“This is an effort to create a harmonized system that applies to all materials and to move away from resin identification codes because a lot of people think RIC codes mean an item is recyclable and that is not always the case,” said Anne Bedarf, an SPC project manager.  “Municipalities and local and state officials tell us that there is no question that people find the RIC codes confusing and that it causes significant consumer confusion.”

Bedarf said the program’s been designed so that the recycling category for a product or product component can change as its level of recycling changes — and hopefully improves. Though initially only SPC industry members will be able to use the new numbering system on their products until late 2012, the plan is to make it a universal labeling system sometime after that time.

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