Clear, consistent, and concise recycling labels that comply with FTC Green Guides. Making sense of recycling.

The How2Recycle Label is a voluntary, standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public. How2Recycle is a product of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), part of the non-profit GreenBlue. The label is a culmination of several years of research and stakeholder engagement and is an adaptation of the successful UK “On-Pack Recycling Label” (OPRL).

The goals of How2Recycle are:

  • Become the standard for recycling labeling in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Reduce confusion by creating a clear, well-understood, and harmonized label that conveys recycling instructions.
  • Improve the reliability, completeness, and transparency of recyclability claims.
  • Provide a labeling system that follows Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Green Guides.
  • Increase the availability and quality of recycle material.

Why Join How2Recycle?

  • Demonstrate leadership and promote consumer responsibility on recycling. Consumers continue to think highly of companies using How2Recycle because they are making the extra effort to instruct and show transparency.
  • Encourage clear and transparent recycling communication to the public, businesses, material producers, government, and recyclers.
  • Be part of a pre-competitive labeling system that follows the Federal Trade Commission Green Guides.
  • Contribute to improving and increasing clean streams of recycled materials.

*Sponsorships are available for the License Fee for companies labeling polyethylene bags, wraps, and other films! Contact for more information.*


Today, recycling messages are numerous, inconsistent, and sometimes misleading. Over the past three years, the SPC consulted with a wide variety of stakeholders including the FTC, SPC member companies, municipalities, trade organizations, recyclers, and the US Environmental Protection Agency to develop the How2Recycle Program.

Each separate component of a package is labeled using one of four categories: Widely Recycled, Check Locally/Limited Recycling (not recycled in all communities), Not Yet Recycled, and Store Drop-off (recycled at retail locations).

These categories are based on nationwide access to recycling data, or “reach data,” and technical recyclability. If 60% or more of the US population has access to recycling an item, then the Widely Recycled label (mobius loop) applies. If access is less than 20%, then the Not Yet Recycled category applies (mobius loop with slash). If there is between 20% and 60% access to recycling, then the mobius loop with “Check Locally” and footnote applies. The Store Drop-off label is specifically for plastic bags, wraps, and films accepted at retail locations. The “Guidelines for Use” document (available to participating companies) provides additional detail on specifications.


Steps to Participate:

  1. Contact Anne Bedarf at 434-817-1424 x314 or
  2. Sign the How2Recycle License Agreement. The fee structure is outlined within.
  3. Pay the annual flat fee for participation based on company size. The one time set-up fee of $1,000 is waived if the License Agreement is signed without negotiation. Annual fees range from $2,000 to $6,000, with SPC members receiving a discount (see License Agreement for fee breakdown).
  4. Provide GreenBlue with a list of packaging types and specifics on the components.
  5. GreenBlue will conduct a recyclability assessment and provide artwork, which must be used unaltered. Send on-package design to GreenBlue for approval.
  6. Post information about the How2Recycle Program, including a link to, on the company website.
  7. Provide SPC with any feedback from consumers or inquiries about the label.
  8. Provide SPC with information on the number of packages carrying the label.

Staff and participants meet every six weeks via phone to discuss shared learnings and updates. Current participants include Ampac, Best Buy, CCF Brands, Clorox, Coating Excellence International (cei), ConAgra Foods, Ecologic Brands, Esteé Lauder Companies (Aveda Brand), General Mills, Honest Tea, the Kellogg Company, Microsoft, Minute Maid (a Coca-Cola Company), Nakoma Products, PAC Worldwide, REI, SC Johnson (Ziploc), Sealed Air, Seventh Generation, Target, and Wegmans Food Markets.

Download Presentation [PDF: 3180kb]


The website provides additional information, resources for checking local recycling instructions, and a consumer survey. Our Facebook page and Twitter account are also available, allowing us to interact with the public and capture consumer feedback. Media coverage of the labeling effort has included outlets such as LA Times, Fast Company, Waste Recycling News, Packaging Digest, GreenBiz, and Supermarket News.


Anne Bedarf: 434-817-1424, x314,