Brands 'misleading' on recyclable plastics

20 February 2020

Brands including Target, Nestlé and Danone have been asked to change labels on plastic bottles because they are incorrectly described as recyclable, according to Greenpeace.

A Greenpeace USA survey of 367 recycling facilities found only bottles and containers in the PET #1 and HDPE #2 categories – typically containers such as milk bottles and juice bottles – may legitimately be labelled as recyclable by consumer goods companies and retailers.

However, many common plastic items, including plastic tubs, cups, lids, plates, and clamshell trays are incorrectly labelled as recyclable, against Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requirements.

Companies accused of using misleading labels in the US include Target, Nestlé, Danone, Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Aldi, SC Johnson, and Unilever.

Greenpeace has asked these companies to correct their labels and plans to file a formal complaint with the FTC if they fail to do so.

Many of the bottles that can be correctly described as recyclable cease to be so after having sleeves, made of a different material, added to them.

“This survey confirms what many news reports have indicated since China restricted plastic waste imports two years ago – that recycling facilities across the country are not able to sort, sell, and reprocess much of the plastic that companies produce,” said survey leader Jan Dell.

The survey found many recycling facilities only accept PET #1 and HDPE #2 categories of plastics because of market demand and domestic processing capacity.

Other kinds of plastics are frequently not accepted by recycling facilities, have no market and end up being sent to landfill or an incinerator.

“Retailers and consumer goods companies across the country are frequently putting labels on their products that mislead the public and harm America’s recycling systems,” said Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar.

“Instead of getting serious about moving away from single-use plastic, corporations are hiding behind the pretence that their throwaway packaging is recyclable. We know now that this is untrue. The jig is up.”

Meanwhile P&G has announced that its Lenor, Unstoppables and Fairy brands will become the first commercial implementations of HolyGrail intelligent packaging in Europe, which is based on recycled resin.

It said its Ariel Cold Wash and Fairy with its Fairycology programme have been granted the 1000 Efficient Solutions Label by the Solar Impulse Foundation for enabling sustainable cleaning with less energy and water consumption.

And P&G Hair Care Europe is set to trial new packaging with recycled plastic material for Pantene products. According to the company, the material can be used in beauty packaging over and over again.

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