In modern business, until recently, consumers shouldered the end of life responsibility of properly disposing of a product. The problem with that model is that consumers are not experts in disposing of the countless types of waste they encounter every single day. Some consumers to do their own research on what plastics are and are not recyclable or what can and cannot compost in a natural environment versus an industrial environment, but most just make assumptions and leave it at that. No wonder so much waste winds up in landfills or oceans.
A lot of companies out there have takeback programs, recycling initiatives, or massive marketing campaigns to manage end of life. In my experience, these programs still take a great deal of research by the consumer in order to be discovered. At Clean, we ask, how can you better talk to your customer about the good things you are doing? Start by incorporating the end of life before you even make a product. Put yourself in the customers’ shoes. Ask yourself what you would like to know and design from there. Some successful programs include educational labels like those from How2Recycle and Terracycle. Others consider more than the label. H&M’s clothing recycling program includes signs all over retail locations as well as store employees talking to customers about the program at the registers. Other companies educate via social media and influencers to get the message out.
It isn’t realistic to continue making products that have no end of life plan. Consumers should not be responsible for knowing how to dispose of everything. Let’s make it easier and tell them how in a clear, easy to understand, and possible manner!