19. May, 2020

Resource and Waste management on pack symbols

On package labels and symbols are designed to provide information on the source and disposal of the packaging that  is quickly and easily understood. In most cases this objective is achieved without further explanation,  but this is not always the case. There is considerable confusion over the meaning of the Green Dot  which does not mean that the packaging is recycled or recyclable but that the producer has contributed (financial?) to the recovery and recycling of packaging.

Degradable and biodegradable also cause some confusion Degradable means the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature within a  “reasonably short period of time after customary disposal. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) defines biodegradables as: Anything that undergoes degradation resulting from the action of naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and algae  within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal”, as indicated by reliable scientific evidence.

The “reasonably short period of time” for complete decomposition of solid waste products varies the US FTC suggest  one year while in the UK the test period is six months. Items destined for landfill, incinerator, or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year, so unqualified biodegradable claims for them should not be made. These terms can be potentially confusing to the public both in terms of where to dispose of the material  and what happens to it once discarded.

Compostable symbols also cause some confusion. The seedling and compostable designates that the package is suitable for only in an  industrial system. Where material can be home composted will have the term “home composting” on the pack.   Carry on Composting have prepared two free Power Point presentations covering over 40 on pack symbols that can be downloaded and used for training  and increasing awareness of the symbols they can be downloaded at http://www.carryoncomposting.com/416920209 or by using this link Compostable Bags