We are all concerned about our carbon footprint, recycling our newspapers and plastic bottles and in general attempting to reduce waste in our personal lives, but what does "recyclable" mean when selling promotional products?
The term "recyclable" is fairly specific – the ENTIRE product must be recyclable, not just part. Recycling centers would not routinely separate a coffee tumbler made in part from recyclable plastic and in part from non-recyclable metal. A pen is not recyclable because recycling centers do not routinely separate the plastic barrel from the ink cartridge.
"Made from recycled materials" generally means that part of an item is indeed made from a recycled material, but not that the entire item is "recyclable".
"Made from recycled plastic" generally means that all or part of the plastic pieces making up the item are made from a recycled plastic. But there are differences in the type of plastic:
Pre-consumer recycled plastic is waste from the manufacturing process and not normally reused by the original manufacturer.
Post-consumer recycled plastic is wast recovered from the solid waste stream after a consumer has discarded it.
Impress your customer with a little bit of trivia about the world-wide symbol for recycling:
The Mobius Loop, recognized world-wide as the symbol for "recycled" was designed by Gary Anderson, a 23 year old college student who entered a design contest sponsored by Smurfit-Stone Container, a large producer of recycled paperboard in the 1960s-1970s.
And empty Mobius loop implies that the product is both recylcable and made from 100% recycled materials.
When it has a percentage inside it, for example 60%, it meanst that the product is made from 60% recycled content.
Stay tuned for more information on "green" claims in marketing and manufacturing. Is it really green? Or is it "green-washed?"