- Keep America Beautiful and the United States Composting Council (USCC) announced a voluntary standard that designates green as the distinct color to be used for organics collection containers nationwide, according to a press statement.
- The groups, along with six participating nonprofits and government agencies, put this standard in place to give consumers a visual cue that differentiates organics bins from other refuse bins, and to promote consistency in messaging across the industry.
- The statement indicated that participants of an online bin color survey were unsure about the color that should be associated with a compost container. 51% selected brown while 41% selected green, however brown was also associated with trash for many respondents, indicating that green may be the least confusing color option for organics.
While the color standard is only voluntary, it is a step in the right direction toward creating a more mainstream understanding of organics disposal across the country. Because the standard garnered support from the City and County of San Francisco, GreenBlue, National Recycling Coalition, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Seattle Public Utilities and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, it is expected that this message will be spread coast to coast and not be contained to one specific region.
Industry leaders should not expect consumers to inherently know how to dispose of materials, nor should they expect consumers to put in significant effort to research disposal options, therefore visual keys are crucial to ensure consumer compliance and avoid waste stream contamination. The color of a bin is just one of the visual keys that consumers depend on to better understand disposal options of all waste types. Recycling labels — specifically How2Recycle or the new How2Compost labels — are also crucial for consumers to follow industry expectations of waste disposal.
As organics disposal programs become more popular across the country, it will be suggested that companies and municipalities adopt green bins for organics from the very start in order to comply with this standard and keep customer confusion to a minimum.