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Valpak clears up Green Dot symbol confusion

Waste management company Valpak will be issuing a code of practice with Trading Standards to address concerns that consumers are being misled by the Green Dot symbol that features on some supermarket products.

Valpak licenses the use of the symbol in the UK which appears in the form of intertwined arrows on a range of products including soap and detergent packaging. The Green Dot symbol is a trademark signifying the company producing the product has made a contribution to the costs of packaging reclamation and recycling scheme which run in some European countries but not in the UK.

Concerns over what the 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 over whether or not a product was recyclable in the UK.

The new code of practice is still being finalised and will state that all companies registered with Valpak must not use the Green Dot if they believe that it may be misleading to consumers. Companies who use the Green Dot have to have the relevant licence and if a company is in any doubt about the legal aspect of product labelling it will need to contact Trading Standards.

Valpak marketing director Duncan Simpson told MRW: Some people have asked why the
Green Dot is on products if it has no meaning in the UK? The main reason is that companies manufacturing products in the UK may send them for export to English speaking member states such as Ireland. Some companies in Ireland have to comply with the Green Dot system. If I am a company manufacturing 100 bottles with 85 going to the UK and 15 going to Ireland then I would not want to stop my single production line to take the label off the 85 bottles. The sheer big scale of these production plants makes them able to be efficient and effective to deliver goods across the European member states in the cheapest and best way.

They are producing products that are as uniform as can be. A UK manufacturing plant that services Ireland does have a requirement to carry the Green Dot symbol because some companies in Ireland take part in recycling schemes.

Some products with the Green Dot symbol are in UK shops. We have issued advice to companies to be careful to avoid using the Green Dot in an inappropriate way.

Simpson said that UK companies who did not export Green Dot products and were trying to use the symbol to mislead individuals about its green credentials would have to be careful and contact Valpak of Trading Standards for advice.

Simpson acknowledged that the issue of labelling on products was complicated because of the minefield of labels on products in the UK, such as the fair-trade logo and Recycle Now logo" and he said that this could cause consumer confusion. But he said that people should not pick solely on the Green Dot label.

The new code of practice is expected to come out in the New Year.

Previous story, Green Dot symbol causes consumer confusion, (01/09/08)

Image: Green Dot symbol

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