Green Dot (symbol)
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 covered under the European "Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive - 94/62/EC", which is binding on 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 its 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.
German dual system of waste collection
In 1991, the German government passed a packaging law (Verpackungsverordnung) that requires manufacturers to take care of the recycling or disposal of any packaging material they sell. As a result of this law, German industry set up a "dual system" of waste collection, which picks up household packaging in parallel to the existing municipal waste-collection systems. This industry-funded system is operated in Germany by the Duales System Deutschland GmbH (German for "Dual System Germany Ltd") corporation, or short DSD.
DSD collects only packaging material from manufacturers who pay a license fee to DSD. DSD license fee payers can then add the Green Dot logo to their package labeling to indicate that this package should be placed into the separate yellow bags or yellow wheelie bins that will then be collected and emptied by DSD-operated waste collection vehicles and sorted (and where possible recycled) in DSD facilities.
German licence fees are calculated using the weight of packs, each material type used and the volumes of product produced per annum.
Worldwide stewardship of the Green Dot logo is managed by PRO Europe (Packaging Recovery Organisation Europe) on behalf of the various national Green dot organizations across Europe.
Symbol design and confusion
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, and not necessarily that the package is fully recyclable. The logo is often confused with the recycling logo.
In Malta, the licence holder of the international waste management Green Dot trademark, Green Dot Malta Limited filed an application calling on the court to order a local company by the name of Green.Mt Limited to stop using a similar trademark.
Green Dot also filed a libel suit against the Chamber for Small and Medium Enterprises - GRTU that set up the non-profit waste management organisation Green.Mt.
In the suit, filed in the Magistrates' Court, Green Dot claimed that the article entitled A Best Practice Story Called GreenMt, published in the August edition of the GRTU's publication NewString, was libellous and defamatory.
In a separate application, filed in the First Hall of the Civil Court, Green Pak Ltd explained that it was licensed by the foreign company Der Grüne Punkt Duales Systems to make use of the GreenDot trademark.
In 2004, Mepa authorised GreenDot to operate in terms of the waste management regulations.
In August 2007, Green.Mt, that also dealt in waste management, started operating using a trademark similar to GreenDot's. The similarity between the trademarks was confusing to the public, Green Dot said, adding that, to make matters worse, Green.Mt has recently been granted a permit to operate in waste management and was therefore a direct competitor.
Green Dot added that, over the past months, the GRTU had spread deceiving information about Green.Mt. It called on the court to declare that the GRTU's advertising was deceitful and to order Green.Mt to pay for damages caused.
Green Dot also called on the court to declare that the Green.Mt trademark constituted unfair competition and to order the company to stop using it.
Lawyers Victor Axiak and Antoine Naudi signed the suits
- Der Grüne Punkt – DSD company website
- PRO Europe website
- Valpak UK – British Green Dot licensing company
- The Green Dot: standards of use
- Comprehensive list of packaging recovery organizations in Europe with links to their web sites