The Green Dot (German: Der Grüne Punkt) is the license symbol of a European network of industry-funded systems for recycling the packaging materials of consumer goods. The logo is trademark protected worldwide.
The German “Grüne Punkt” is considered the forerunner of the European scheme. It was originally introduced by Duales System Deutschland GmbH (DSD) in 1991 following the introduction of a Packaging Ordinance under the Waste Act. Since the successful introduction of the German industry-funded dual system similar Green Dot systems have been introduced in most other European countries.
The Green Dot scheme is captured under the European “Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive – 94/62/EC” which is binding for all companies if their products use packaging and requires manufacturers to recover their own packaging. According to the directive, if a company does not join the Green Dot scheme they must collect recyclable packaging themselves although this is almost always impossible for mass products and only viable for low-volume producers. Regulatory authorities in individual countries are empowered to fine companies for non-compliance although enforcement varies by country. Environmentalists claim that some countries deliberately turn a blind eye to the European directive.
Since European introduction, the scheme has been rolled out to 23 European countries. In some, namely France, Turkey, Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria, companies joining the Green Dot scheme must use the logo.
The Green Dot is used by more than 130,000 companies encompassing 460 billion packages.
The basic idea of the Green Dot is that consumers who see the logo know that the manufacturer of the product contributes to the cost of recovery and recycling. This can be with household waste collected by the authorities (eg, in special bags – in Germany these are yellow), or in containers in public places such as car parks and outside supermarkets.
The system is financed by a green dot licence fee paid by the producers of the products. Fees vary by country and are based on the material used in packaging (eg paper, plastic, metal, wood, cardboard). Each country also has different fees for joining the scheme and ongoing fixed and variable fees. Fees also take into account the cost of collection, sorting and recycling methods.
In simple terms, the system encourages manufacturers to cut down on packaging as this saves them the cost of licence fees.
The design of the Green Dot symbol has obvious links with the Chinese Taijitu (yin and yang) symbol and Gary Anderson’s recycling symbol. Where full-color printing is available, its official form is printed in a light and a dark shade of green (Pantone 366C and 343C). For cost reasons or to avoid a visual clash with other symbols, many manufacturers chose a black-and-white or other color combination on their packages.
The Green Dot logo merely indicates that a company has joined the Green Dot scheme but is often confused with the recycling logo.