Green Dot: When a recycle symbol doesn’t mean recyclable

November 6, 2007

Green Dot symbolA few weeks ago I told a friend that this symbol does not mean you can put the packaging in for recycling. (Right.) I thought it meant the packaging is made of recycled material. (Wrong.)

Turns out the “Green Dot” is used on packaging in some European countries to show that the manufacturer has paid a fee to a national packaging recovery company.

So it does NOT have anything to do with the packaging at all!

 It took far too much time for me to find this out. How can something so simple, be so unobvious.

  • In the UK it may appear on packaging that’s (1) been imported, or (2) used on export packaging so the company doesn’t have to make special packaging for the UK.
  • For an easy introduction — the Green Dot Licensing Company (a trading name of Valpak UK Ltd) manages the scheme in the UK.
  • For everything there is to know about it — Der Grüne Punkt (or the Green Dot in English) from Duales System Deutschland GmbH which manages the entire scheme.
  • It’s a registered trademark.
  • It’s on Wikipedia: Green Dot.

That’s my homework done for the week.

This entry is part of the Infomancy Eco-Symbols Series.

But why did they bother with any of these slogans… or is it all just one piece of strangeness? (from the English and German Grüne Punkt pages above)

Because values are at stake. Weil es um Werte geht. … “Because it’s about values” – not so much at stake in Germany?
An entire world. Um Welt. … “Umwelt” (as one word) means “environment” and “Um Welt” means “Around (the) world” or “About the world”. It’s a clever play in German, but it doesn’t work in English.
Value for people. Value for People. … so in German nouns get a capital letter, but why is it in English on the German pages?

(Should I care?)


2 Responses to “Green Dot: When a recycle symbol doesn’t mean recyclable”

  1. Very interesting, but there’s more to Green Dot than meets the eye. In the UK the symbol is absolutely meaningless, in other EU countries who operate the Green Dot scheme to manage household packaging waste, it works a treat and has led to high recycling rates (around 90% for Belgium, and no more landfill from German household waste from 2007). More info on the Green Dot on my website, if you’re interested.
    Like your site, its breadth of info and currentness!


  2. infomancie Says:

    Thanks, Martina.

    I like your article… well-worth the read, so here’s the link for anyone who’s interested…

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