This post was written by Gwen Lorio, associate research fellow in Global Stewardship.
According to the latest EPA stats, about a third of the waste generated in the U.S. is recycled. That’s a number we’re hoping to help our consumers change for the better.
Next month, you’ll begin to see How2Recyle logos on some of our products in the U.S., including Fresh Step® and Scoop Away® kitty litter cartons, Green Works® laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid, and Oxi® stain remover. And our goal is to have all of our products carry the logos by 2020.
To minimize our own waste, we’ll be rolling out the logos as we refresh/redesign a product’s packaging. Adding a logo to a label may seem somewhat simple, but actually, there’s a lot that happens before a new label makes it onto a store shelf.
One of the biggest challenges is “space.” Many of our labels are crammed with safety information that includes usage, storage and disposal instructions in two languages, in a specific minimum font size. Plus there’s our contact information and a bar code. And then there’s an extra challenge when our packaging is very small. Adding a How2Recycle logo can certainly put our designers’ creativity to the test.
Additionally, disinfecting products have registered labels and mandatory text, thus making the space available more limited. But even more importantly, the additional graphic needs to be approved by the EPA (federal and state levels) for each label, which means it could take about a year to add the How2Recycle graphic to any disinfecting product.
Finally, we need to ensure we are meeting the FTC Green Guides criteria to determine if a package can be labeled as recyclable or if we need additional qualifying text. To ensure we’re using these logos correctly, we also work with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), an industry working group and project of GreenBlue, a nonprofit that equips companies with the science and resources to make products more sustainable.
A recent SPC online consumer survey found that 80 percent of respondents felt more positive about companies that used the How2Recycle label, and 43 percent reported they had changed their recycling behavior due to the How2Recycle logos piloted by other SPC members in 2012. We hope the How2Recycle logos will remind consumers to recycle and help them do it correctly (which will also help keep recycled materials a little cleaner and easier to separate).
We are optimistic that this will be a positive change for our consumers, for Clorox and for the planet.
For more information, please visit How2Recycle.info.
Gwen Lorio manages Packaging Stewardship in R&D and has worked on packaging at Clorox for close to 25 years. Gwen lives with her husband and two sons in the TriValley area where she loves horseback riding and hiking in the East Bay Regional Parks with her dog, Bear. For the past few years, Gwen co-chaired the Clorox employee Eco Network in Pleasanton, Calif., and she is also on the board of directors for the East Bay California Dressage Society chapter.