U.K.'s Valpak to Issue Guidelines for Green Dot Symbol

U.K.'s Valpak to Issue Guidelines for Green Dot Symbol

Valpak, a provider of recycling and producer responsibility services in the U.K., is drafting guidelines for companies using the Green Dot symbol to avoid consumer confusion over its meaning.

The Green Dot, displayed on product packaging, shows that a company has paid into a nationwide producer-funded packaging recovery and recycling program. The Green Dot (below left), slightly similar to the symbol for recycling (below right), does not mean that a package is recyclable or contains recycled content. Green Dot-related recycling programs exist in 25 nations - 22 of which are in the European Union - but the U.K. does not operate a Green Dot program.

Green Dot on package - GNU license by Wikimedia user Trounce            Recycle symbol - CC license by Flickr user TheTruthAbout...

Valpak says that the Green Dot is used on packaging in the U.K. because product makers participate in Green Dot programs elsewhere and want to avoid the extra costs and impacts of making different packaging for use in different countries. Some Green Dot programs require the symbol to be displayed on packaging, others make it optional. It is not required in the U.K.

Valpak decided to draft a code of practice for use of the Green Dot after reports showed that consumers in the U.K. were purchasing products with the Green Dot, thinking the symbol meant the items were recyclable, has recycled content or meant some other environmental benefit. For now, Valpak is advising companies to not display the Green Dot on U.K. packaging is they think it will mislead consumers, especially if the packaging is not recyclable.

PRO Europe, the umbrella organization for Green Dot programs, estimates that more than 460 billion pieces of packaging distributed worldwide by more than 130,000 companies bear the Green Dot symbol.