How We’re Making Recycling Smarter with How2Recycle Labels

A How2Recycle label on an iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit

Our mission at iFixit is to save the world by teaching people how to fix things, and selling the parts and tools to do so. We ship those parts and tools in the most eco-friendly packaging we can manage, and we’re always improving. But it’s a lost cause if someone doesn’t know how to actually recycle that packaging.

Depending on where you live, that might sound either nutty or all too relatable. Some places and systems have you separate everything into metal, plastic, paper, and other materials, while some just take everything you put into a single tote. But even the dump-it-all-in approach brings up questions. Do I need to rinse food out from inside jars? Should I pull the stickers off this mailer? Which plastics can I recycle?

Those questions are exactly what the How2Recycle coalition aims to answer, and iFixit is a part of it. We’re joined by Amazon, Unilever, Black & Decker, and other brands printing clear, easy-to-understand recycling instructions on our products. All of our toolkits and large bubble mailers used to send small or flat parts have How2Recycle labels. We’re working on getting our Fix Kits and drivers properly labeled next.

A How2Recycle label on a bubble mailer from iFixit.

A How2Recycle label gives you four things, from top to bottom (also listed on the official website):

  • Instructions on what you should do, if anything, to prepare the item for recycling (“Rinse before recycling,” “Remove paper label before recycling”).
  • Text inside the recycling arrows indicating if the item is not easily recycled: “Check Locally,” “Not Yet Recycled,” or “Store Drop-Off,” the last of which indicates you should find a retail store locally with a variety of public recycling bins. If there’s no text, it is “Widely Recycled” and you can recycle it as normal.
  • A lower section (black text on white) telling you what the material is: plastic, paper, etc.
  • A bottom section (white text on black) indicating what part of the packaging the label refers to (bottle, box, envelope)

American recycling is in dire trouble, in large part because much of the country has avoided sorting or preparing goods for proper recycling. How2Recycle aims to solve this problem—knowing what to do with the stuff—on the way toward getting more things recycled. Look for this label on our goods, and everything else you buy.