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Q&A: How SmartLabel provides key CPG recycling information

The Consumer Brands Association’s Rishi Banerjee offers insight into the SmartLabel program and how the CPG industry can continue to improve sustainability efforts.

4 min read


A graphic of a mobile phone displays the SmartLabel program with CPG product information.

The Consumer Brands Association

The Consumer Brands Association’s SmartLabel program allows shoppers to scan QR codes featured on the packaging of consumer packaged goods items, instantly offering detailed information about the products’ ingredients, allergens, nutrition and recycling instructions. SmartBrief spoke with Rishi Banerjee, senior director of SmartLabel at Consumer Brands, about how the association’s SmartLabel program is an essential tool for educating consumers on where and how to recycle their products and the importance of all stakeholders supporting packaging sustainability across the CPG industry.

Rishi Banerjee

SmartBrief: What is SmartLabel? How did the SmartLabel program begin, and how has it evolved since its inception?

Banerjee: SmartLabel is the consumer packaged goods industry’s flagship consumer transparency tool. The program was founded in 2015 by industry leaders as a way to advance transparency, gain trust and engage with consumers and has grown to include over 107,000 products from more than 1,000 brands across the industry. Today, brands are using SmartLabel to communicate nutrition, ingredients, safety, recalls, recycling and regulatory compliance information directly to consumers via QR codes and the product database on

SB: How did Consumer Brands select The Recycling Partnership to team up on integrating recycling information into SmartLabel?

Banerjee: The SmartLabel program regularly develops new use cases and partnerships to expand the information available to consumers on the platform. SmartLabel is excited to work with The Recycling Partnership because its new Recycle Check tool brings package and zip codespecific recycling instructions directly to consumers by simply scanning a QR code. Because SmartLabel already has thousands of products with QR codes on the package labels, integrating Recycle Check quickly brings this tool to consumers.

SB: How are CPG manufacturers and other stakeholders supporting the SmartLabel program and other major sustainability initiatives?

Banerjee: SmartLabel was founded by the CPG industry and we’re working with implementors to find new use cases to make SmartLabel product information more dynamic and SmartLabel even smarter. The program has enjoyed significant growth over the years and includes national brands and private-label products in food and beverage, household cleaning, personal care, dietary supplements, OTC medications and even pet food. In addition to Recycle Check, brands use SmartLabel to display How2Recycle attributes and sustainability practices at the corporate level.

SB: What should policymakers – from local to federal – be doing to aid the industry in sustainable packaging efforts?  

Banerjee: There is a great deal of investment and innovation happening within the CPG industry to make products more sustainable and packaging more recyclable. SmartLabel is a program of the Consumer Brands Association and our policy and regulatory professionals work closely with federal and state policymakers and the CPG industry to efficiently bring innovative solutions for sustainable packaging to market. New partnerships like SmartLabel and Recycle Check are helping to reduce the knowledge gap for consumers about local recycling capabilities. Knowing whether a product is recyclable in their local communities has been an ongoing challenge for consumers.

SB: What’s next for SmartLabel (and its collaboration with Recycling Check)?

Banerjee: For consumers, there is tremendous benefit to a program like SmartLabel that standardizes how product information is shared. SmartLabel will continue to serve as a clearinghouse of reliable and trustworthy product information, including exploring new integrations that help make SmartLabel even smarter. SmartLabel implementers are currently working with Recycle Check to integrate Recycle Check and we expect adoption to grow in 2024. Recycle Check is just one tool that SmartLabel can offer and we are exploring several more opportunities for integrations. 

Learn more about SmartLabel.

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