5 Ways to Improve Recyclable Packaging
Recyclable packaging is often becoming the standard across the market. However, many consumers find sustainability and recycling information on packaging to be confusing.
As a brand, it is your responsibility to clearly inform consumers about which elements of your packaging they can and cannot recycle and how to do so.
This can be tricky, as recycling rules vary across the country and globally. With different coloured bins and variations in recycling regulations, individuals are often left puzzled when it comes to recycling and doing their bit for the planet.
Have you ever spent time looking on the back of packaging for recycling information only to be met with confusing symbols? You either take to the internet to investigate further or many people, in a bid of timesaving, throw it in the general rubbish.
So, how are brands communicating the recyclability of their products, and how can they improve?
The Recycling Symbols
There are several different recycling symbols included on packaging, some of which detail extra measures that are to be made to facilitate the recycling of a product. This includes telling users to rinse a product, remove sleeves or not recycle certain elements.
Recognisable symbols can be seen above; however, there is still often confusion when it comes to what users can and cannot recycle, and symbols are not always understood.
One way that brands can encourage recycling and inform consumers is through interactive packaging. QR Codes and Augmented Reality can be used to teach consumers how to recycle your product efficiently, explaining the symbols included on your packaging.
This will allow you to connect to eco-conscious consumers and portray your brand’s values of sustainability. Communicating clearly to your audience that you prioritise and take responsibility for the effect that your product or packaging may have on the environment.
One brand that uses QR codes to tell its sustainability story is Mondelez on packs of their snack products such as Barny, Oreo and Freddo. The company uses QR codes on their packaging, which leads to their ‘Snacking Right’ webpage when scanned. This then teaches consumers how to recycle packaging, as well as how to snack mindfully and learn about their sustainably sourced cocoa.
The recycling section of the website teaches users what the packaging is made of, if this can be recycled in their household waste bins and even direct them to their nearest recycling location for those materials that cannot be recycled in their household waste.
Horizon is a new app built to assist consumers in the efficient disposal of recyclable packaging. The app, which relies on user input, helps users to recycle by advising on what can and cannot be put in each bin in accordance with their local council.
The user simply scans the barcode of their packaging item, inputs product data (if not already in the system) such as product name and what the packaging is made from, and the app will tell you if you can recycle it or not!
The app launched in 2020 and aims to grow significantly to include more helpful data on recycling.
Tesco recently trialled a year-long partnership with Loop to promote recyclable packaging in the U.K. Loop also has partnerships with international retailers Carrefour, Charlie Banana and Burger King.
The Loop trial in Tesco encouraged consumers to recycle and reuse their packaging by charging a deposit for the first item, which could then be returned in-store when purchasing again.
The returned packaging would then be washed and refilled, ready to re-enter the cycle.
One example of a brand that took part in this project was Dr. Will’s. In collaboration with Dr. Will’s and Loop, we trialled eco-friendly materials for the brand’s sauce labels to compliment the Loop reusable bottle!
The label also featured a wash-off adhesive. This was chosen to facilitate the high-grade recycling and reuse of the packaging, enabling the bottle to renter the supply chain and be refilled with Dr. Will’s sauce for the next customer!
Makeup recycling initiatives
Reworked/MyGroup have partnered with multiple makeup and skincare brands such as Boots and The Body Shop to initiate a recycling scheme in stores across the country. This encourages consumers to bring their empty packaging into store in return for discounts and loyalty card points.
This scheme encourages recycling in a very wasteful industry, as these products cannot be typically recycled from home. Thus, combating some of the issues with waste and making it easier for consumers to dispose of recyclable packaging.
This is communicated in store as well as online and sometimes even on the packaging itself. In Boots, the scheme has recycled over a million products so far, with products being turned into new usable products such as stormboard.
To conclude, there are a number of ways in which brands can better facilitate the recycling of their products by educating the consumer and providing easy to understand ways to recycle.
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