On-package recycling instructions for the public

The How2Recycle Label® is a standardized on-package labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public. The goals of the How2Recycle Label were developed through open discussion with numerous stakeholders, and reflect the program’s ultimate vision of a system where valuable packaging materials are beneficially recovered.

The Problem

Packaging for consumer products comes in many shapes and forms, and uses a number of different materials to meet the desired performance criteria. Recyclability of these materials depends on the availability of waste treatment facilities across the U.S. and varies greatly between states and localities within each state. This variability makes it difficult to effectively communicate which materials can be recycled where.

Elements of the How2Recycle Label

The Solution

How2Recycle harmonizes recyclability information based on Federal Trade Commission Green Guides and reduces confusion by creating a clear, straightforward label that enables product makers to convey to consumers how to recycle a package. The system improves the reliability, completeness, and transparency of recyclability claims.


Packaging touches all aspects of today’s material economy and plays an integral role in delivering goods and services in a global market. Manufacturers use a variety of plastics, paper and board types, container glass, steel, aluminum, and other fibers in their packaging. Containers and packaging made up the largest portion of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated in 2012; about 30 percent, or almost 76 million tons. Of the packaging waste, only about half was recovered for recycling, primarily consisting of corrugated board and to a smaller extent steel. The remaining material including plastics was mostly discarded. The discarded portion of the MSW represents a significant investment in embedded energy that if recovered could go a long way toward a more sustainable materials economy.

Sustainable Materials Management

How2Recycle plays a critical role in the effective recovery of materials by providing a platform for brands to communicate recycling instructions for packaging directly to their end consumers. End users of packaged goods – citizens – are integral to sustainable material management. Without their participation the material loop cannot be properly closed.

Learn More

Learn more about the How2Recycle Label and how to join the ever-growing list of participants:
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