About Green Dot® and Europe's packaging waste recovery efforts.
In the early 1990s, Germany realized it had a problem. Landfill capacity was shrinking, yet the amount of packaging waste generated by industry continued to grow. Faced with an impending long term crisis, Germany passed legislation to help curb the amount of household packaging waste that ends up in landfills. At the time, packaging accounted for 25-30% of the waste in European landfills and little was being done by industry to reduce the volume of packaging that accompanied their products. Other governments throughout Europe saw the wisdom of Germany's plan and in late 1994 the European Community (now the European Union) passed the European Packaging Directive, formally known as the "Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive - 94/62/EC."
The goal was to harmonize national laws concerning the management of household packaging waste to provide a high level of environmental protection. The goal of the legislation is to prevent the generation of packaging waste in the first place through educational and fee-based recovery programs.
Following Germany's lead, more countries formed their own national organizations. In total, 32 countries have national packaging compliance organizations that manage their country's packaging recovery programs. Three of those countries (Denmark, The Netherlands and Ukraine) do not offer the Green Dot® programs but have their own non-Green Dot® programs.
Europe recognized that industry would have a tough time managing compliance if some sort of umbrella organization were not available to help them. Thus, PRO Europe® was formed in 1995.
PRO Europe stands for "Packaging Recovery Organization Europe." Its mission is help the national recovery organizations offer the best possible service to their clients (industry) and to administer the use of the Green Dot® logo as a symbol of producer responsibility and efficient packaging waste management. PRO EUROPE also acts as guardian of the Green Dot® trademark and promotes education about the benefits of reducing packaging waste. Their main task is to help national organizations implement successful collection systems.
Today, the Green Dot® program has more than 130,000 participating companies and 460 billion packages have been labeled with the Green Dot® logo and some 14.7 million tons of used packaging waste was recovered and recycled by these European organizations.