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The green dot symbol on packaging is misleading

If you are sad like us and spend a lot of time studying packaging to see if it is recyclable or not, there is one symbol that appears time and time again, that being the ‘Green Dot’.

Initially, we at Ecofrenzy thought it meant the packaging was recyclable – we were wrong.

What is the ‘Green Dot’?

All it means is that the producer of the packaging has made a financial contribution to the end recovery of packing. It is not in itself a recycling symbol, nor does it mean that the packaging material on which it is marked is either recyclable, or made using recyclable materials.

Very confusing we think!

So, it is more a mark of the producer’s environmental responsibility, and for that mark a company in UK pays just £295 + VAT (in 2016).

Other countries in EU apply different fees for the scheme and these fees are based on the material used in the packaging i.e. paper, plastic, metal, wood and cardboard.

Now for the twist, in the UK it is not mandatory to display the Green Dot on packaging because there is an alternative equivalent scheme called the ‘Packaging Waste Recovery Note’ (PRN) system. This comprises of recycling certificates showing that a certain amount of packaging has been recovered/recycled.

So what is the point of paying the cost of the UK ‘Green Dot’ licence? Many organisations choose to purchase the Green Dot licence so that they are not burdened with the time and costs of printing two different sets of packaging i.e. one set without the Green Dot for the UK and another with the Green Dot for exported goods.

This means that the Green Dot is a meaningless trade mark in the UK. However In order to ensure that the Green Dot is not misused and does not mislead UK consumers, a licence can only be issued to companies in the UK if they are exporting packaging/packed goods to Europe, regardless of whether their goods packaging is recyclable.

Con or not, you decide.

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