Recycled or Recyclable? Here's the Difference!

September 02, 2015

Recycled or Recyclable? Here's the Difference!


There’s that buzzword again, “eco-friendly,” being thrown around by various companies, environmentalists, and even politicians. Let’s cut to the chase. Lots of promotional products are touted as “recycled,” leading you to inevitably think, “Oh, I just bought something made from someone else’s stuff! How cool!”

You may have been greenwashed.

Legally, any company can call an item made of re-used materials “recycled.” Many times, recycled items aren’t completely made from previously-used consumer products. They might be made from trimmings on a manufacturing company’s factory floor; they could consist of damaged materials from said factory; they could be made up of something that spilled on the ground! This is still material that has been reused, and not gone to waste. However, it’s not what many people think it is.

The consumer should know what he or she is getting.

What Am I Getting When I Get That Recycled Water Bottle?


In the spirit of transparency, PROMOrx wants to clear some things up to ensure that you and your customers actually get what you want from your recycled promotional products. Items labeled “recycled” are either made from pre- or post-consumer waste:

Pre-Consumer Waste = Manufacturer waste, such as factory trimmings and the aforementioned “items on the factory floor.” These are materials that have never actually been used by consumers like you!

Post-Consumer Waste = Items that you typically associate with recycling: goods that someone else has utilized and thrown away, which were ultimately turned into something new!

Recycled items like PROMOrx’s Recycled Tires Jar Opener, or Recycled Adhesive Notes are ideal opportunities to showcase your company’s stance on recycling. You may choose to have these items labeled, “Made From Recycled Materials” below your logo. Choose an item with the recyclable symbol printed on it like these Green Marketing Pens or choose a sustainable bamboo pen that is laser engraved.  Either way, people know they’re getting something special, that honors a commitment to the environment! 


What Are Those Green Arrows I See on Eco-Friendly Products?


Many people believe the well-known triangle composed of green arrows indicates an item has been recycled. Don’t purchase a promotional product and call it “recycled,” simply because these arrows appear! This design actually means that an item is recyclable, but may not be made from recycled materials. The good news is, recyclable items are great too.

When you purchase a PROMOrx product that is recyclable, rather than recycled, you’re still getting something valuable. A recyclable product enables the consumer to participate in the global overall effort to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Recyclable items can be turned into something new, creating less waste overall. When someone eventually does want to get rid of a recyclable promotional product, at least they’re not creating more waste!

We love it when companies choose to brand themselves as environmentally-conscious businesses. The consumer always appreciates that forward-thinking attitude.

What Can You Do?


In addition to distributing recycled and recyclable promotional products, you can promote eco-friendly attitudes by putting your company logo on reusable items. An ideal choice is a metal water bottle, which cuts down on those pesky plastic water bottles people buy in bulk (and throw away).

Another option is to use sustainable goods for giveaways and gifts. One popular, and incredibly fun example is the natural cork promotional coaster. Made from wine corks created during cork production, these coasters were produced to look elegant while serving a purpose. Sustainable items are made from easily renewed resources like bamboo, instead of harder to obtain and more scarce natural resources.

Just Remember These Recycling Tips…


Go forth and choose the Eco-Friendly product that you believe suits your company, and aligns with your marketing goals. Just remember:

  1. Not all “recyclable” items are recyclable everywhere in the country. This article from Real Simple provides insight into which plastic products are accepted universally, and which ones  might not be acceptable everywhere.
  2. Keep similar papers in similar recycling bins. Papers are recycled together on the basis of the types of fibers that they contain.
  3. Recycling metal is incredibly helpful to the planet. It saves energy and money!
  4. Only some types of glass are recyclable. For example, Pyrex glass is generally not accepted by recyclers. Glass bottles and jars usually are.


PROMOrx purple papers are designed to help our clients, and potential clients, make informed, intelligent decisions about the branded items they want to buy.

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