Frequently Asked Questions

Is this a non-profit initiative?

Yes, Recycle Across America™ is a non-profit initiative through the Environmental Advancement Foundation® - a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing national solutions which remove public confusion and expedite environmental and economic progress.

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We'd like to advertise on this website, do you sell ad space?

No we do not sell ad space; Recycle Across America™ is an ad-free website.

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How were the colors chosen for the standardized labels?

With input from a variety of industry leaders, numerous color options were considered which ultimately led to the colors now featured on the national standardized labels. Because there has never been national color standards in the past, we were able to work with a clean palate. However there was one exception, most people associated the color blue with recycling paper because they have seen blue bins designated for recycling paper at their offices and schools. Therefore we chose blue for paper recycling and we dedicated a lighter shade of blue to the cardboard recycling label.

Since the day that we introduced the standardized label initiative we have been paying attention to trends in the most progressive communities in North America to watch their leadership and to make certain that this solution is as closely aligned to their recycling successes as possible. In May 2012 we made the decision to modify the colors of a few of the standardized labels to better coincide with those communities efforts, therefore we modified the mixed recycling and combined recycling labels blue and the compost related labels green.

Since there are many, many variations of sorting requirements across the country, using only four primary colors for the standardized labels in the U.S. was not an option.

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How was the terminology on the standardized labels chosen?

With input from a variety of industry leaders, numerous terminology options were presented, discussed and voted on which ultimately led to the words now featured on the national standardized labels. Because there has never been national terminology standards for labels in the past, Recycle Across America™ made decisions focusing on common-sense and public understanding, while taking into account the future trending of recycling.

When deciding on the label for mixing materials such as glass, plastic, aluminum and paper in one bin, various terms such as: Commingled, Single Stream, Single Sort and Mixed Recycling were considered. In the end, we chose the term that was instantly understood by the general public: 'Mixed Recycling'. Additionally, a rudimentary internet search was performed to see which terms had the most amount of references. When searched, Mixed Recycling had over 8 million references, whereas Single Sort had 3 million and Single Stream had 306,000 and Commingled had 53,000 references.

With the Compost Label, the term 'Compostable' was chosen because the general public understands that food and food-related paper will be collected and then composted into nutrient rich soil. There were discussions about using the term "Organics", however on a national level the general public thinks "Organic" means foods or products that are ready for consumption and made without the use of pesticides or artificial ingredients. Since Recycle Across America™ wanted to choose terms that would make the most sense to the general public, the term compostable was chosen.

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I read about printing the labels ourselves, do you still offer free PDFs?

When the standardized label initiative was first launched, downloadable PDFs were offered for people to print the labels themselves. However we discontinued offering the PDFs to help protect the labels from being modified (which ultimately undermines the act of standardization).

Additionally, when PDFs were offered people either took them to their printer or printed the labels themselves on a desktop printer, resulting in a lack of quality control. Currently there are 8.5x11 stained, ripped, dirty, faded sheets of paper taped to bins across the country acting as recycling labels. And in many cases when people had others print the labels on stickers, this is what they looked like after a short amount of time in use (photo to left). It became evident that not having quality control of how the labels were printed, and discovering that the integrity of the initiative was at risk when the artwork was in the wrong hands, wasn't an effective or environmentally-responsible approach to this solution.

Therefore, in an effort to ensure the effectiveness of the labels and to have a more environmentally-responsible long-wearing quality product, the decision was made to only offer labels professionally produced to ensure longevity and ensure that the labels are made to withstand heavy interaction, custodial use and cleaning (photo to left).

Furthermore, the professionally printed standardized labels are priced in-line with black and white labels.

In the future, the ultimate goal of Recycle Across America™ is to provide label grant opportunities for public schools and non-profits. As funding for this grant program becomes secured, the grant application process will be posted and announced.

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Recycle Across America™ is careful not to repeat the recycling Chasing Arrows icon mistake. As many of us have witnessed, lack of protection or restriction of use of the chasing arrows recycling icon has caused great confusion and public skepticism. Because the chasing arrows has become 'clip art' and is not regulated, it can be printed on anything and often is, regardless whether the product or its packaging has any genuine recyclability or recycled content attributes.

Here is a great example of the abuse of the chasing arrows icon: Recently at the grocery store, we noticed the chasing arrows icon printed on a large green sticker on top of vegetables that were packaged on a styrofoam tray and wrapped in plastic wrap. There wasn't any information about what warranted the icon being prominently placed on top of the styrofoam and plastic wrapped non-organic vegetables. Because there wasn't anything identifiable that was recyclable or recycled, that company appears to be attempting to appeal to the green-minded consumer by broadcasting the recycling label when nothing on the packaging or product appears recyclable. The end result is that its use on this packaging was misleading, creating ever-growing consumer skepticism and ultimately diluting the icon's effectiveness. Recycle Across America™ aims to protect the standardized label initiative by preventing people from modifying the labels which would threaten the standardization and dilute its effectiveness.

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Are these labels produced with sustainable products?

The manufacturer of the materials that the labels are printed on is aggressively working on establishing the most environmentally-friendly product while ensuring the quality necessary to avoid waste and replacement. At this time the materials that the labels are printed on are the most environmentally-responsible and effective because they are fade-resistent, peel and lift resistent, and don't need frequent replacement. In the pursuit of the most environmentally-responsible choices, there is an on-going challenge to weigh the greenest material options while ensuring the best quality with the longest effectiveness. As advancements are made for materials to include greener ingredients while ensuring the highest quality standards to prevent waste, those materials will be incorporated into the national standardized label production.

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