How waste sorting labels can help to separate waste

There is clear evidence that sales packaging that is labelled with the waste sorting symbols provided by Trennhinweis e.V. is more likely to be disposed of correctly than packaging without the label. This was shown by a recent online survey conducted by YouGov Deutschland GmbH.  A further result: the majority of respondents would like to see standardised packaging labels on correct disposal for all manufacturers, like those that the organisation offers free-of-charge. The symbols are easy to understand and show consumers at a glance how the packaging should be disposed of correctly. The goal is to promote the correct disposal of waste so that as many valuable materials can be kept in circulation as possible.

The packaging used for food items, cosmetics, cleaning products and detergents are very diverse in terms of both shape and material. Thus, it is not always easy for the consumer to see how the packaging is to be correctly disposed of after use. This is a problem, as incorrect disposal of empty packaging means that many valuable materials are being lost from the circular economy. The latest online survey by YouGov Deutschland GmbH, which was commissioned by Trennhinweis e.V., makes it clear that when packaging carries the waste sorting labels offered by Trennhinweis e.V., the behaviour of consumers in regard to correct disposal improves, even after only seeing them once.

In order to determine the effects of these waste sorting labels on the behaviour of consumers in regard to correct disposal, the respondents of the survey were shown three different items of packaging or components of packaging, either with the labels (treatment group) or without the labels (control group). They were then asked how they would dispose of the packaging. Packaging items were deliberately chosen which, from experience, cause problems for consumers when it comes to separating them correctly – bottle tops, a stoneware bottle for drinks and an empty lipstick. The results show that, for all three types of packaging, more of the respondents were able to dispose of these items of packaging correctly when they were labelled with the waste sorting symbols. Without the labels, only five percent of those asked would put an empty stoneware bottle into the yellow container/yellow bag. However, if the stoneware bottle is labelled with the symbol to show the correct route for disposal, this figure rose by 40 percentage points to 45 percent. The results were also confirmed with the other packaging examples: lipstick packaging (plus 24 percentage points) and bottle tops (plus 10 percentage points) are likewise correctly disposed of more often when they bear the waste sorting labels.

The more information provided, the better the packaging waste is sorted

A further challenge for consumers is the sorting and disposal of packaging that is made of various different materials, which may need to be put into different waste containers. Here too, the survey made it clear, for example with an item of packaging for pasta made of plastic but with a paper tag, that the Trennhinweis e.V. waste sorting labels provide effective help for the correct disposal of the individual components. The behaviour of consumers in regard to correct disposal improves in line with an increase in information content: if, in addition to the symbol on the packaging, consumers also watch an explanatory video which shows them how to dispose of the various materials, two thirds of consumers would opt for separate disposal into the yellow container/the yellow bag and the paper bin – almost 68 percent more than in the control group (without any label or a film).

For this reason, Trennhinweis e.V. also offers companies QR codes that can likewise be printed on the packaging to go with the symbols on correct disposal. When consumers scan the QR code, they are directed to a short information video on the correct disposal route for the item in question. These videos not only show where the individual components of the packaging should be disposed of, but also how this should be done.

No solo efforts: consumers want to see standardised packaging labels

Symbols on packaging to show the correct way to dispose it of should be quickly recognised and easy to understand – for this reason, 85 percent of consumers would like to see standardised labels on packaging. By contrast, less than ten percent were in favour of manufacturers going it alone on this issue. “The YouGov survey not only shows that our waste sorting labels provide effective information on the right way to dispose of a wide range of different packaging materials, it also makes it clear that we are responding to the wishes and requirements of the consumer,” explains Dr Alexandra Ranzinger, Chairwoman of Trennhinweis e.V. “Our goal is to establish these packaging labels across all manufacturers and across the whole of Germany, so that as many people as possible understand how to sort their packaging waste correctly – thereby helping to promote the circular economy.” The organisation surely is on the right path: companies such as the drugstore chain Müller, Stylex, Grünländer and Netto Marken-Discount are already making use of this free-of-charge provision.

Label your packaging now with the free, easy-to-understand waste sorting information!

The free-of-charge waste sorting labels may be used by any distributor registered with the German Central Agency Packaging Register (Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister ZSVR). Conclude the contract of use online and download the waste sorting labels.

Conclue contract of use now!

About Trennhinweis e.V.

Trennhinweis e.V. advocates for qualitative and quantitative optimisation of the separate collection of packaging waste. The organisation is a joint initiative of dual systems in Germany which are responsible for the organisation of the collection, sorting and recycling of used sales packaging across Germany. Packaging manufacturers and retailers can print the waste sorting labels provided by the organisation on their sales packaging free of charge. With their easy-to-understand symbols, the labels provide information on the correct way to sort and dispose of the item of packaging in question. With their campaign, Trennhinweis e.V. are pursuing the goal of providing clear information to consumers about recycling and are thereby helping to ensure that packaging is recycled into high-quality materials and flows back into the circular economy. This means a reduction in both the consumption of resources and the production of CO2 emissions, bringing positive benefits to the environment.

About the survey

The data used comes from an online survey organised by YouGov Deutschland GmbH. 2,064 persons took part in the survey. The results were weighted and are representative for the German population from the age of 18 years and upwards.