Packaging may say it is environmentally friendly, but is it really? Find out which labels to look for, which materials recycle the best, and where to take packaging for reuse and recycling.
Not all packaging claims are equal, says John Bernardo, of green-packaging consulting firm Sustainable Innovations LLC. “With the FTC’s new green guidelines for labeling, there will be more scrutiny over what companies can say that relates to their packaging,” he says. Until then, here’s how to know which companies really do pack an eco-punch.
Are the claims specific?
Don’t buy into unsubstantiated claims like “sustainable packaging.” Opt for products that list specific percentages and types of recycled material (post-consumer recycled or post-industrial content). Also look for sustainability stamps of approval from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).
Which materials are used?
In addition to recycled content, companies have other green options like bagasse (a sugarcane byproduct ), bamboo, and palm fiber, which makes use of palm-tree parts that would otherwise go to waste after the oil is harvested.
Do I know how to recycle the product?
Look for companies that clearly show how to recycle all parts of their products. A paperboard box containing a bottle of shampoo, for example, should include information about how to recycle the box, the bottle (along with type of plastic it’s made from), and a recommendation for what to do with the lid—a labeling system that’s required in the United Kingdom.