Unilever, P&G and Kraft Heinz, have been criticized by recycling proponents in the European Union for failing to use a recycling label on all of their products.
The retail industry agreed to a labeling system in 2009, but many brands do not consistently use the label on its packaging, according to the Recycling Association.
“For these massive multinational entities, it’s just not at the top of their agenda. They just decided not to do it and that’s completely and utterly wrong,” Recycling Association CEO told the Guardian.
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The foot-dragging of big brands stands in sharp contrast to the UK’s major supermarkets, all of which (bar Lidl) use the recycling label for their own-brand products. In total, over 75,000 product lines in the UK now carry the label.
A key reason brands are failing to include the information on their packaging is space, says Jane Bevis, chair of OPRL, the non-profit group that oversees the on-pack recycling label. Unlike the UK, countries such as Germany and France oblige companies to include on-pack recycling information. This creates a shortage of packaging space for brands that sell products into multiple European markets, observes Bevis.
Yet where there’s a will, there’s a way, she suggests. Pharmacy chain Boots, for instance, prints “UK only” above the on-pack recycling label to avoid EU consumers getting confused. Meanwhile, multinational manufacturers such as Unilever and P&G are embracing nationally-specific schemes in Australia and the US, she notes.