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Green Dot symbol causes consumer confusion

Waste management company Valpak is seeking advice from Trading Standards over concerns that consumers are being misled by the Green Dot symbol that features on some supermarket products.

The intertwined arrows of the Green Dot appear on a range of products including soap and detergent dispensers and Valpak licenses the use of the symbol in the UK. Concerns over what this Green Dot symbol stands for were raised when a Radio Four iPM listener wrote a letter to the station to say that the symbol might confuse shoppers, increasingly worried about the environmental credentials of their purchases.

In fact the Green Dot symbol, which is usually black and white on labels, is a trademark which simply means the company producing the product has made a contribution to the costs of a packaging reclamation and recycling scheme which runs in some European countries. In these countries, any item with a Green Dot is placed in a dedicated bin and the materials are collected, sorted and recycled where possible by agencies funded from the fees.

But the symbol has no meaning in the UK - it is just used for operational purposes.

Valpak marketing director Duncan Simpson told MRW: If a company manufacturers products that are also exported to other EU companies, it makes economic, environmental and operational sense to have the logo on packaging.

The green dot is not a recycling symbol but nobody intends to mislead consumers. We try to communicate its meaning on our website and encourage people to use the logo correctly. So far a handful of people have raised issues over the green dot in the past eight years since weve been licensing it.

We take every concern seriously and have organised discussions with Trading Standards and others to ensure that no one is misled in the future.

But any other recycling symbols could also be potentially misleading to consumers and shoppers.

The Green Dot trademark is used by more than 130,000 companies including well-known brands in the UK such as Cussons washing up liquid and Unilever products.

A Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) spokeswoman said: The UK is not a participant in the Green Dot system and it is not a matter for Defra to comment on whether other EU member states decide to use the label.

Clear guidance on environmental labelling schemes can be found on the Defra website.


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