More than a symbol on packaging or certification program, the Designed for Discard (D4D) program is a science and data-based approach connecting brand owners, consumers, waste handlers and the industry.

What is D4D?

While everyone is a part of a D4D Community, there are some who have an opportunity to advance sustainable materials management in a unique way that enhances the success of D4D in their region.

This includes, those who drive the economy by choosing what products to buy (consumers), the government organizations that write legislation and contracts for waste management (municipalities), and educational institutions that teach and direct the future of society (universities and colleges). Each of these have a crucial part in D4D Communities.

Municipalities and educational institutions committed to increasing sustainable materials management and reducing waste locally can designate their area as a D4D Community. In a D4D Community the concepts of the D4D program are brought to life.

  • waste bins are labeled with the appropriate D4D discard logo
  • there are various educational programs for consumers on proper discard
  • continued research on waste reduction is supported
  • litter and improper discard is avoided
  • products that are D4D Compliant are encouraged and preferred
  • legislative leaders drive sustainable practices
  • local businesses and organizations support D4D Community efforts

D4D Communities are the final culmination of a successful implementation of the D4D program.

Who are the D4D Community members?

D4D Communities include those who drive the economy by choosing what products to buy (consumers), the government organizations that write legislation and contracts for waste management (municipalities), and educational institutions that teach and direct the future of society (universities and colleges). Each of these have a crucial part in D4D Communities.


The majority of consumers are eager to participate in environmental programs, provided they are simple to understand, easy to perform, inexpensive and convenient. This desire has plagued the recycling industry with high contamination rates from consumers looking to discard waste in a method they perceive as “more environmental”.

D4D solves this by providing products with clear labeling that matches the discard bins. This removes the consumer interpretation of which bin is “better” to simply, which bin is right. As simple as match the symbol on the product with the bin and feel good, so easy a toddler can do it!  Consumers support the reduction of waste further by encouraging their municipality to become a D4D Community, shopping at D4D Partner retailers and buying D4D Compliant products.


Municipalities are the core of D4D Communities. These communities are leaders in sustainable waste management and economic responsibility. Contracts for waste hauling and management in these communities are built around D4D programs.

It’s all about extracting the maximum value from products and materials used within their community. Their recycling programs are profitable as a result of properly discarded ‘Recycle This’ materials, they build healthy soils through effective composting programs including ‘Compost This’ materials; and often their community directly benefits from the alternative energy created by properly discarded ‘Convert to Energy’ products.

Municipalities also deliver educational messages to their citizens to reinforce the benefits of proper discard methods to maximize the value of D4D in their community. Some communities also choose to directly invest in D4D programs by offering grants for marking discard bins, educational programs and through legislative action, while others reap the benefit of financial support from local D4D Partners.

Universities and Colleges

These higher education organizations are often a community of their own. The unique environment of a university campus fosters innovation and change within the community. Campuses are filled with students eager to make their mark on society with a fresh new perspective and demonstrate value within the community.

Universities and colleges facilitate D4D Communities by implementing on campus D4D programs. This includes utilizing D4D Compliant products, labeling discard bins with the appropriate D4D discard method, and educating staff and students on proper discarding.

Student organizations also support D4D programs both on and off campus by volunteering to help local communities implement D4D, building local educational programs and working with EREF on D4D research projects.

There are many benefits of joining a D4D Community, here are just a few:

Reduce consumer confusion. ISRI and Earth 911 survey shows that 65% of consumers are confused over plastics recycling. D4D removes all confusion with a clear, identifiable mark on BOTH the product and the discard bin.

Reduce marine litter. Properly discarded items and clean recycling streams reduces the chance that a product will be shipped overseas to countries that allow flows of waste into oceans. It is for this reason that Switzerland has moved away from enforcing mixed plastic recycling.

Reinforce positive consumer experience. With D4D your product creates a “feel good” when products are properly discarded as opposed to the archaic concept that “feel good” only applies to the recycle bin. This increases the chance that products will be discarded properly.

Implement the right goals. D4D provides a solid analysis of a products end-of-life opportunities and determines where it SHOULD be discarded based on environmental impacts and available infrastructure.

Reach environmental goals of recyclable/recoverable materials. Most communities fail to meet regulatory guidelines for waste management/diversion, D4D provides the opportunity to encourage the design and labeling of all products for proper recycling and recovery while matching these products with clearly labeled discard bins for maximum success.

How do I join the D4D Community?

Municipalities and educational organizations interested in creating a local D4D Community make commitments to further sustainability within their local community through the implementation of D4D programs. D4D Communities work with EREF to advance the D4D program in various ways depending on their specific resources and abilities.

D4D Communities commit to:

  • Public recognition and support of D4D programs
  • Promote the local use of D4D Compliant products
  • Implement D4D discard bins within their community
  • Develop and implement educational programs to facilitate proper discard

EREF understands that it requires money and time to accomplish this. Financial support from D4D Partners is used to fund D4D Communities efforts in achieving these goals. Educational institutions offer additional support through coordinated research efforts, volunteer student efforts and increasing student education on sustainable materials management. Residents can also drive grassroots efforts to build their local D4D Community.

If you are interested in supporting or becoming a D4D Community, reach out directly to EREF to discuss opportunities available.

Communities who carry the title of a D4D Community proudly display the D4D logo as a visual representation of their commitments on websites and printed materials. This reinforces the dedication of the local leadership to sustainable programs, and reminds the community members of their part in building the D4D Community.

What is the D4D difference?

The broadest reach of D4D is bringing the entire community together. This is where the community unites in a commitment to implementing D4D programs. The municipality provides direction and the official commitment to be a D4D Community. Citizens participate through their purchasing decisions and proper discard. And, academic organizations drive implementation through volunteering, research opportunities and on-campus D4D programs.

In a fully operational D4D Community; manufacturers and brands create products designed for maximum use-ability and optimal value after use, retailers proudly display D4D Compliant products on their shelves, consumers purchase these products and after use discard appropriately, waste companies convert these discards into valuable products for the community through recycling, energy conversion and composting. This is all made possible by the municipality and local organizations who support D4D Communities through local education, investment in research, and utilization of D4D products within their facilities.

D4D is about communities moving forward together with a single vision and creating systemic change across the value chain. This is why D4D is much more than simply labeling or certifying products. D4D is about changing the way society creates products, discards products and works collaboratively to create sustainable communities – D4D Communities.

Do D4D Communities determine what evaluation criteria the program uses?

One of the primary values of D4D is the true third-party unbiased status. For this reason, the evaluation criteria are based solely on science and data and not on commercial interests. However, D4D Community members may contribute to ongoing research to advance the science supporting the evaluation criteria.

Can unincorporated regions be a D4D Community?

Yes. At EREF we believe in collaboration and feel there is value in bringing together all corners of the community regardless of size or status.  A D4D Community can be as small as a neighborhood or as large as a country.

Does a locality need authorization from EREF to be a D4D Community?

Yes, there are certain requirements to become a D4D Community and EREF will need to provide approval before an organization can claim the honor of D4D Community.

What does it cost to be a D4D Community?

There is no fee charged to be a designated D4D Community and EREF encourages D4D Partner organizations to provide financial support to assist  their local D4D Communities.