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QR codes on packaging may clear up recycling confusion

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Posted at 4:06 AM, Oct 24, 2023

Knowing what can or can't be recycled can be confusing.

It gets more difficult because there are thousands of recycling programs across the country and each program has different rules.

One potential solution is a company called The Recycling Partnership which has created a platform called Recycle Check.

Recycle Check let's you can scan a QR code on a product's packaging, enter your zip code, and learn immediately if that item can go in the recycle bin.

"It'll show you a yes, no answer for your local recycling information, which is super helpful. You don't have to guess about where do I check locally? It can give it to you right there," said Katherine Huded, Vice President of Recyclability Solutions for The Recycling Partnership.

Huded says starting in October, you'll see the Recycle Check QR code on some of your grocery staples like milk and even some seasonal items like frozen pies.

"Because aluminum pie trays are only accepted in approximately 40 percent of residential curbside collection programs, the QR code label provides clarity on where the item is accepted for recycling," The Recycling Partnership announced in a press release.

So far, food companies General Mills and Horizon Organic have signed up for the program.

"We're working very closely with How2Recycle and SmartLabel, other labeling experts out there that see the value of this local recycling information, so you can find it through some of those labels coming soon," said Huded.

The Recycling Partnership's FAQ portion of its website poses the question, 'Will consumers really use QR codes?'

The company said, "More than 85% of Americans now own a smartphone and 75% say they plan on using QR codes. Going further, The Partnership's consumer research validated that people find QR codes easy to use, with 82% of respondents sharing they would use their smartphone to determine if a package is locally accepted for recycling."

"I would just encourage viewers to remember that the recycling system only works if everyone participates. We all have a role in making recycling work. So absolutely get familiar with the common packages that you have in your household, whether or not they're accepted in your local recycling program, and participate," said Huded.