Sustainable Packaging Program


Green Seal is developing criteria for a sustainable packaging recognition program for producers of consumable products. By designing a flexible framework based on industry best practices for recyclability and recycled content, Green Seal can help companies meet their goals and commitments and accelerate the transition to sustainable packaging for consumable products in both the household and commercial markets.


Manufacturers and consumer goods companies are stepping up efforts to minimize single-use packaging, use more sustainable packaging materials, and reduce consumption of virgin materials after decades of growth.

With a recognition program for sustainability leaders, Green Seal can play a critical role in driving demand for recycled content, helping to increase the recovery rates of packaging waste, and promote the circularity of recyclable packaging products. This initiative will:

Reduce Packaging Waste

According to the EPA, in 2018 packaging and containers comprised 28.1 percent of the solid waste generated in the United States, or 82 million tons. Sustainable packaging both uses content that would otherwise be landfilled and avoids producing more waste. Green Seal will recognize packaging that uses recycled content and is recyclable or reusable.

Increase Use of Recycled Content in Packaging

According to the EPA, in 2018 the recycling rates by packaging type were:  

  • paper/paperboard packaging and containers (80.9%) 
  • metal containers/packaging (55.7%) 
  • glass containers (25%) 
  • plastic containers/packaging (13.6%).  

Increasing the use of recycled content in packaging helps strengthen demand for recycled materials and supports efforts to increase collections and recovery rates. Green Seal will recognize packaging that meets recycled content thresholds. To continue to encourage manufacturers to achieve a higher level of sustainability, Green Seal intends to raise the bar for minimum recycled content about every 5 years.

Verify Recyclability of Packaging Materials

Mixed materials, labels, adhesives, and other attributes of packaging may result in packaging that is not recyclable and potentially contaminates the recycling stream. Creating more sustainable packaging requires designing packaging with recyclability in mind. Green Seal will verify that packaging is recyclable using industry accepted best practices such as the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) Design Guide.


Green Seal uses stakeholder feedback to inform our decisions on final standard criteria. This includes using Advisory Groups composed of market and technical experts from three interest categories: producers, users, and general interest. During the standard development process, Green Seal strives for balanced participation from all interest categories. To learn more, see our Standards Development Manual.

Green Seal’s reputation for credibility and market impact rests on an open and transparent process for developing our science-based criteria, following international best practices. We will seek public comment on our draft criteria and input from industry, environmental researchers and advocates, product purchasers, and the general public.

Program Framework

Green Seal is actively working with stakeholders to develop criteria for a sustainable packaging recognition program. The list below are examples of criteria that you may see in the Proposed Recognition Program.

  • Recycled content thresholds
  • Recyclable packaging requirements
  • Sustainably sourced requirements
  • Ingredient prohibitions or restrictions
  • Functional performance requirement

Our Advisory Group

Green Seal’s Sustainable Packaging Recognition Program Advisory Group members provide technical expertise in packaging design and manufacturing, plastics manufacturing, recycling, and corporate sustainability. This group provides structured feedback on specific topics including technical aspects of proposed program criteria and feasibility in the marketplace.

Consulting Partners

  • Capgemini

Advisory Group Members

  • Amazon
  • The American Cleaning Institute
  • Aqua ChemPacs
  • The Association of Plastic Recyclers 
  • Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute 
  • Diversey 
  • Eastman
  • Ecolab
  • EWG
  • ISSA
  • The Household & Commercial Products Association 
  • The Independent Beauty Association
  • Meijer, Inc. 
  • PortionPac Chemical Corporation 
  • Printpack 
  • Project Clean 
  • Reckitt Benckiser
  • Solidus Solutions
  • Sonoco Products Company
  • Spartan Chemical Company 
  • Target
  • U.S. Plastics Pact 

Join Our Stakeholder Network

Green Seal relies on a wide community of stakeholders including manufacturers, advocacy organizations, and product buyers. This feedback is critical to making sure our programs and standards are relevant, scientifically accurate, and a true reflection of environmental leadership in today’s market.

We invite you to join our Sustainable Packaging Stakeholder Network to demonstrate your commitment to advancing the uptake of sustainable packaging. Members of our Stakeholder Network will receive regular program development progress updates. Members of our Stakeholder Network will be invited to provide feedback on program design and proposed criteria.