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Rules Governing Use of Recycling Logo

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 19 Aug 2015 | comments*Discuss
Rules Governing Use Of Recycling Logo

When we buy a product or item from a supermarket or department store a great many of us fail to even take into consideration the nature of how such an item should be disposed of. This is why a great number of British citizens fall foul of the laws which determine how certain items are disposed of.

More importantly this is because we do not pay attention to the logos on the packaging or the products themselves. But in order for these logos to be displayed there is much to be done from a legal stand point and here we examine what has to be done and why it has be done.

Recycling Logos

The purpose of recycling symbols on cartons, boxes and plastic packages, as well as glass and toxic materials, is to provide clear and concise instructions as to how these items should be disposed of. Without these logos being displayed it is likely that there would be much more waste that would be dumped illegally or indeed simply disposed of in completely the wrong manner.

This applies particular to combustible materials, which can, if introduced to fire and extreme heat, explode and cause serious injury to those in the immediate vicinity.

How Manufacturers Come to Display Recycling Logos

In order to display recycling logos on packaging the manufacturing companies involved must apply for government approval in order to do so. They must also prove to the Environment Agency that the products and their packaging can be disposed of in the manner stated. In order for this to be acknowledged by the relevant authorities a set of tests must be carried out along with feasibility studies.

Recycling logos can only be displayed once the relevant bodies are satisfied that the packaging and the products therein can be disposed of as indicated by the manufacturers. At this time a regional certificate may be issued to allow the manufacturers to print the relevant logos on their packaging.

What is the WEEE Directive?

Introduced in 2006 the WEEE Directive (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) is designed to help combat the problem of electrical and electronic waste – principally that produced from IT equipment – which had previously simply been dumped along with most other household and business waste.

The WEEE Directive

The WEEE Directive contains a set of rules which are used to govern how most of our household and business waste is disposed of. This also details how electronic components such as computers, batteries, microchips etc are recycled.

One of the primary functions of the WEEE Directive is to ensure that at least 65% of the United Kingdom’s waste – in particular its electronic waste such as the items we have already mentioned – is recycled. All of the items mentioned must bear the relevant recycling logos and must have government and environment agency approval to bear these logos before they are allowed to be sold openly in the market place.

Infringement of Recycling Laws

There are hefty penalties to be incurred by those companies and individuals who flout the rules and regulations as governed by the WEEE Directive and the environment agency. These penalties are issued for incorrect use of recycling logos as well as the unauthorised disposal of any packaging or product which has been branded incorrectly with said logos.

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The information given in this article is factually incorrect. The Government nor the Environment Agency (EA) approve the use of any recycling logos. I believe that Jack has confused the use of Green Dot, which is a requirement in other EU states. Here are the real UK legal requirements. Any business with an annualturnover of more than £2m who places more than 50 tonnes of packaging on the UK market must register as a producer. They have to provide data on the volume of packaging they handled in the previous calendar year. From this data their recycling obligations are calculated and they must demonstrate to the EA that they met these obligations via a recycling tradeable permit called a PRN - packaging recycling note. There are two options avialabe to producers who need to regiater. They can register with a EA approved compliance scheme or register directly with the EA. Approx 96% of businesses have registered withcompliance schemes. The advantage to a business is that it transfers the legal responsibility onto the scheme who must meet the recycling obligations on behalf of the business. Registering directly means the business must work out their obligations, purchase the required PRN,s and proof to to the EA it has done so. My expertise in relation to this - 23 in waste regulation industry. Head of National Waste Registration Unit at Environment Agency 1996 -2001 where I was responsible for introducing the regulatory controls on packaging producers, compliance schemes and recyclers. 2001 -2009Director of CompIiance at Wastepack (the UK's second largest compliance scheme).2009 to present my own environmental consultancy business Gaffney Environmental Ltd working for a number of clients.
Peter - 19-Aug-15 @ 10:03 AM
Hello, As per your statement above "In order to display recycling logos on packaging the manufacturing companies involved must apply for government approval in order to do so." + "...a set of tests must be carried out along with feasibility studies". Would you be so kind as to advise the details of the department where this approval is obtained and which are the tests and studies that are required by the relevant authorities please. Additionally you may wish to clarify as to who are these "relevant authorities". I have been in contact with the Environment Agency, our designated Waste Packaging company that has issue us with the duly 2015 "Statement of Obligation" for paper and plastic and even with Trading Standards. Neither of these do have the knowledge of a specific government department that issue the approval for the use of the "recycling symbols". I'll await your response. Thank you.
Javier - 12-Aug-15 @ 1:50 PM
I want to use a green "recycle dot " on my packaging what approval do I need for this, it would be used on a cardboard sleeve.
MICKEY - 20-Mar-14 @ 4:31 PM
Why must the Recycle triangle on the bottom of bottles and items, be so small you need a magnifying glass to see it!! Even on huge Tide bottles!! I throw a lot in the trash because it can't be read, because the plastic melts together and it turns into a blob instead of helpful info!! Very stupid, in my opinion!!!
Cowboy - 13-Dec-13 @ 11:46 PM
Hi.. please can you advise how to obtain agreement to use a recycle logo on our packaging. thank you
Di - 8-May-13 @ 5:14 PM
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