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New labeling takes confusion out of recycling

New labeling takes confusion out of recycling

Recycling should feel good and most importantly, be easy. Reducing waste, saving energy, helping the planet—these are all things that most of us want to do—whether we are packaging engineers or just plain old consumers—but struggle to when the process is difficult or unclear! But in a system full of complicated rules and tiny numbers in often hard to find triangles, recycling often turns into a frustrating process, ending in a blind toss into what we hope is the right bin. Even as packaging experts we are sometimes unsure of which bin, is the right bin!

To help break down these barriers, not-for-profit Recycle Across America (RAA) distributes standardized recycling-bin labels, designed to reduce public confusion about how to recycle. The labels clearly point out what can be placed in a bin, from plastic only to mixed recycling to compostables and yes, even the dreaded landfill. Using simple clear imagery and minimal copy these labels could be understood by someone who doesn’t even speak our language!

TerraCycle has partnered with RAA for the launch of their Recycle Right! social action campaign, which features advertisements, videos, and tips on recycling in hopes of doubling the amount of standardized labels in use to 1 million labels deployed on bins nationwide. The campaign is kicking off in conjunction with the premiere of “Human Resources”, a new show about the world of TerraCycle from Participant Media.

Consumers are the first step in the recycling process, so clarity about how to get things started is important. When people don’t know what can be recycled or where to put it, waste streams often end up polluted with trash or intermingled recyclables. Costs increase and time is wasted as processors are forced to sort through waste for the materials they can use. This discourages sustainable practices; if the cost of recycling is greater than the value of the materials, it just won’t happen.

Meanwhile, daunting rules lead many consumers to throw up their hands and just throw everything in the garbage. According to the EPA, Americans recycled only 38% of aluminum packaging and 34% of glass packaging in 2012. As a result, landfills are filling up with material that won’t break down for decades and that could have easily been recovered and reused.

Confusion is also burdening businesses, organizations and schools who want to reduce waste and recycle. Green consultants or sustainability administrators end up spending much of their time trying to increase effectiveness of recycling programs and decrease waste-hauling costs. Clearer labeling on bins would simplify recycling for everyone and allow these groups to focus on broader sustainability initiatives. 

Some big-name adopters of RAA’s labels include NBCUniversal, Procter and Gamble manufacturing and Hallmark. Additionally, over 2,000 K-12 schools in the US have taken them on. The results? According to RAA, standardized recycling labels help increase recycling more than 50% and significantly decrease the amount of trash or incorrect recyclable thrown into recycling bins and polluting that once valuable material.

Implementing bin labels in the office is a first step anyone can take to improve company recycling practices. But packagers could potentially play a larger role in organizing the chaos of the recycling system. Right now, a lack of consistent labeling or clear directions makes it difficult to determine what to do with certain waste; food containers, different types of paper and the range of numbered plastics all lead to puzzled customers.

Some efforts have been made to demystify that little green triangle. The On-Pack Recycling Label launched in the UK in 2009, aiming to provide clearer instructions and keep trash out of recycling streams. The labels, which have been adopted by about 150 brands, indicate whether each part of a package is recycled widely, only in certain areas or not at all. A similar effort by the How2Recycle project has been offered to US businesses since 2012. And customer surveys have shown that 80% of customers who saw the How2Recycle label on a package gained a more positive impression of that company.

Figuring out where to toss our trash shouldn’t be stressful. People want to reduce their impact on the planet, and when a company makes it easy for their customers to go green, everybody comes out happier. Processors win, consumers win, the planet wins and the price of recycled materials goes down meaning packaging designers and engineers can finally convince the other stakeholders at going to post-consumer waste packaging makes sense!

Author Tom Szaky, founder/CEO of TerraCycle, has won more than 50 awards for entrepreneurship, also writes blogs for Treehugger and The New York Times, recently published a book called "Revolution in a Bottle" and is the star of a National Geographic Channel special, "Garbage Moguls."

The secret to creating beautiful turned edge packages

The secret to creating beautiful turned edge packages

When it comes to turned edge packages, finding the right adhesive can make all the difference in creating attractive, resilient, economical and affordable designs—and creating that kind of packaging is vital for business success.

“No matter how great or charming your sales pitch, it’s almost impossible to change a first impression,” says Philippa Law, Get Busy Media. “This is why making a first impression with a product is absolutely vital if you wish for it to be successful, and like it or not, the first impression any potential customer makes might be derived almost exclusively from its packaging.”

Ask yourself: What is your current product packaging saying about your brand? What impression does it create? Is it impressive and slick, or is it flimsy and poor in quality?

“When it comes to planning your packaging, it is worth spending time and money to get it right,” says Alison Coleman, The Guardian. “It is not just a case of coming up with something you think looks great. You have to think about storage, transport, the environment and whether it fits in with retail buyers’ requirements.”

So to help make the most of the packaging you use, consider the following insider tips. Whether you’re making staff binders or product boxes, here is what you need to keep in mind.

  1. Pick the right adhesive: The type of adhesive used in a product’s packaging plays a significant role in how the overall materials can stand up to heat, stay sealed and protect the products inside. Will you be transporting food? You’ll need food-safe packaging adhesives that minimize risk to consumers and comply with federal guidelines for the food packaging industry. “Several chemical substances are present in adhesives,” says NI Business Info. “When they are used in food packaging, these substances may have the potential to transfer or migrate from the adhesive to the foodstuffs.” Whatever your industry, though, look for an established packaging manufacturer—one that will provide samples of packaging before you order, so you can examine seals and quality firsthand.
  2. Make it eye-catching: Any business can tell you that pretty packaging is more than fun to look at; it’s also easier for customers to be drawn to and remember. People care about presentation—so why not do “something interesting and unconventional by using Styrofoam, rubber bands, veneer or elastane,” as Creative Bloq suggests? One of the beauties of today’s packaging world is that design options are virtually unlimited. From colors to embossing to foil stamping and more, there are plenty of options for making your package a true eye-catcher. Whether you go with a box that features intricate designs or a binder with bright colors and branding, you gain a new way to impress your audience with the way you bundle products.
  3. Pick the right size: A package that’s too big makes your product look small, and a package that’s too small makes your product get crushed and shoved inside—so pick packaging that will instead fit your objects perfectly. Because packaging options come in various sizes, they can be used to house anything from branded promotional items to company manuals to products, such as software. Look for an option that doesn’t have a lot of excess space to stuff with filler. The better the packaging suits your product, the more impressive it will feel.
  4. Go custom: A customized book box or binder can be just what an event, presentation or marketing material needs to stand out. Outfitted with your unique logo and graphics, custom packaging demonstrates a special touch to customers. “Whatever stands out clearly in the monotonous competitive environment, whatever is surprising scores points with the consumer,” says an article at Interpack, a leading processes and packaging trade fair. “Special effort makes a special impression—and is allowed to cost more too.” Because there are so many options available in the turned edge packaging market right now, there are many ways to create a look that suits your brand.

Looking at the above list, are you already making the most of your products’ packaging? To wow your clients and amplify your branding, pick high-quality materials, make them eye-catching, choose the right size and design a custom look that will add to your product’s value.

Pierce Covert is the president of Glue Machinery Corp., a company that builds sells and services industrial hot-melt and cold-glue systems used worldwide by a range of manufacturers.

Celebrity artwork adorns beer bottle labels

Celebrity artwork adorns beer bottle labels

Every year Beck's Beer rolls out its summer-long promotion where the brand commissions up-and-coming and established artists to create original artwork for its beer bottle labels. Over the course of 27 years, the popular campaign has celebrated the works of Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Yoko Ono, MIA and Kid Cudi. This year indie group Capital Cities and singer Aloe Blacc, as well as six other artists, will take over millions of Beck's beer bottle labels nationwide starting July 1, 2014 and will run over the course of the next three months.

"Live Beyond Labels participants tend to be drawn to the idea of reaching millions of people in an entirely new way," says Ryan Garcia, vp, regional marketing. "The size of their audience and their creative focus differs from artist to artist. But they all share an independent streak, a fearlessness Beck's admires."

Garcia tells Packaging Digest that they begin with a wide search, always looking for creative people who demonstrate independence and drive. From there they dive deeper and look for artists they can work with who are succeeding because they make their own rules, follow their own lead, and trust in their own artistic expression.

"Beck’s continues to be a popular choice in the U.S. and around the world. It is an established brand with rich history. We see an opportunity to expand upon that and give beer drinks new reasons to enjoy the No. 1 German beer brand in the world. Live Beyond Labels is one of those reasons and we anticipate a successful program this year and expect a successful program this year with tremendous consumer excitement," adds Garcia.

According to the company, a key ingredient for the program's popularity is its disruptiveness because beer drinkers are not accustomed to locating original artwork on a side of a bottle.

indie group Capital Cities and singer Aloe Blacc, as well as six additional artists, will take over millions of Beck's beer bottle labels beginning July 1, 2014. - See more at:
Live Beyond Labels
Live Beyond Labels
Live Beyond Labels

Versatile cable and hose carrier offers flexibility

Versatile cable and hose carrier offers flexibility

The reliably tight TKA Series Cable & Hose Carries from Tsubaki KabelSchlepp protects cables against dirt, chips and circulating spray water while thwarting off any entry of coolants and lubricants. The series is suitable for a range of applications and can be used standing or hanging while the dividers can be arranged in a variety of ways.  

“The TKA series allows for completely new application scenarios, that for standard systems as well as for customer-specific adaptations,” says Thomas Ameis, manager mechanical engineering cable carrier systems at TSUBAKI KABELSCHLEPP.

The cable carrier is IP54-approved making it the only one of its kind to comply with this high protection rating. The series is also available in extremely heat-resistant material which protects the cables from temperatures up to 850°C.