Recycling Information

Most recycled paper products labeled “RECYCLED” contain little or no post-consumer waste! These products actually do little to address environmental concerns.

In the United States there are basically no laws regulating environmental labeling. Instead, we have chosen to rely on the free market to regulate behavior, believing that consumers’ choice will determine the requirements. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us all to demand more information and only buy products that provide details on the complete product life cycle.

Many other developed nations have labeling systems that analyze components of the complete life cycle of a product. The labels tell you the cradle to grave impact of the product on the environment. That is the information you need to make a true, eco-friendly choice.

U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines require no postconsumer content for an advertising claim of recycled content! The FTC only advises that labels indicate the percentage of recycled content if it is less than 100%.

Look for the chasing arrows symbol. Under pressure FTC declared that any product that displays the chasing arrows symbol must meet both the requirements that it contain 100% recycled content and that it be recyclable.

But if you really want to be an educated consumer and make the right purchase, the product label needs to tell you its post-consumer content. FTC guidelines are broad and only specify that recovered content be disclosed. Recovered content can be either pre-consumer or post-consumer content. So you could buy a product labeled with the recycling symbol that is 100% pre-consumer manufacturing scrap and have no post-consumer content. For example, paper made from other paper trimming could claim to be recycled even though it is 100% virgin paper! That would still be FTC compliant.

At Earth Presents our mission is to generate a fundamental shift toward environmental responsibility. You can help start this movement by demanding more product information on labels.

Definition Of Basic Terms

Recycling is the reprocessing of materials into new products.

Post-consumer waste is waste produced by the end consumer.

Pre-consumer waste is the reintroduction of manufacturing scrap back into the manufacturing process.

Recovered material refers to materials that count as recycled content, both pre-consumer and post-consumer.

Renewable is a term proposed by the paper industry for virgin paper made from “renewable resources” such as managed tree plantations.

Fun Facts

Chasing Arrows The universal recycling symbol contains the three chasing arrows. Some time around 1970, when Earth Day was really popular, a large producer of recycled paperboard had a contest for a design that would bring attention to environmental issues. A 23 year old, college student won with a variation of this symbol. The symbol is not trademarked and is in the public domain.

Most wrapping paper is not recycled and not recyclable. That’s because it uses petroleum-based inks and contains additives to give the paper its sheen. Here’s what’s added: laminates, metals, gold and silver, glass and other non-paper additives.

Ribbon is not recyclable and has a huge environmental impact. Take the Hubschercorp’s challenge and guess how much ribbon North America uses in just one holiday season.

Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles an hour! Earth Presents’ ribbon and bows are made from recycled PET water bottles.