Sometimes the details of what can be recycled in your local recycling program can get a little confusing. Labeling on packaging like “please recycle” and “100% recyclable,” gives the impression that a package can be recycled everywhere when that might now be the case and that’s where How2Recycle makes life a lot easier.

How2Recycle was started as a project of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to “reduce confusion by creating a clear, well-understood and nationally harmonized label that enables industry to convey to consumers how to recycle a package.”

The other stated goals of How2Recycle are:

  • Improve the reliability, completeness and transparency of recyclability claims.
  • Provide a labeling system that follows Federal Trade Commission Green Guides.
  • Increase the availability and quality of recycled material.

How2Recycle now has over forty-five participating companies and brands including Seventh Generation, Target, Annie’s Homegrown, Plum Organics and more.

The label created by How2Recycle is extremely easy to read and has four components:

  1. List the information about how to prepare the material for recycling. For example, “Rinse & Insert Lid” and “Remove Label Before Recycling.”
  2. Lists the information and locational instructions which lets you know if an item can be recycled traditionally or by other means.
  3. List the type of material the packaging is made from like metal, glass, paper and so on.
  4. Lists the specific part of the packaging that is being recycled like can, tray, bag, bottle and so on.

The visual of the label makes it so simple to understand what part of the packaging can be recycling and how to recycle it. If a package has more than one material that can be recycled, there will be a multi-component label on the product. Each “tile” will represent a different part of the package and how to recycle it.

To see the specific breakdown of the labeling system, visit

What’s next?

Due to rollout in 2016, the How2Compost label program will be an extension of the How2Recycle program. How2Compost will be an on-package label that lets you know that the packaging is certified compostable.

To learn more about How2Recycle, visit