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?

D4D Compliant validation is a third-party verification that your product is likely to have a beneficial end-of-life rather than becoming waste.

Brands have the opportunity to submit their product(s) to become D4D Compliant. All D4D Compliant products are validated for either recycling, composting or conversion to energy. This validation includes not only the design of the product, what it is made of and if it is easily discarded properly; but it also looks at the environmental impacts of how your product will be discarded.

D4D validation ensures that your product is likely to be discarded properly, return value to the community and be as environmentally sensitive as possible.

Note: Validation of one product does not mean that other products that are part of a brand are compliant. Each product must undergo the validation process before receiving a D4D logo.

Products that pass the rigorous criteria proudly carry one of the three the D4D discard logos:


Recycle This: Products carrying this designation are validated to provide value in the recycle stream and are validated to support a sustainable recycling industry. The materials they are made of, design of the product and availability of recycling facilities make these products environmentally and economically valuable for recycling.


Convert 2 Energy: Products designated as Convert 2 Energy have high energy values and are validated to either convert to natural gas, fuel or direct energy at discard. This energy can be used to offset less environmental energy production and gasoline/diesel for vehicles.


Compost This: Products that carry the Compost This label add value to the compost systems by increasing the amount of food or yard waste available to facilities. These products are validated to compost effectively without compromising the value of the resulting soil.

The D4D logo on the product also matches the logo on discard bins. This makes it very simple for everyone to correctly dispose of products. For example, a product with the Recycle This logo would be placed into the bin displaying the matching Recycle This logo.

D4D validation offers a variety of benefits, just a few are outlined below:

Attract targeted consumers. In the U.S., 87% of Americans desire to purchase products from companies whose corporate social responsibility advocacy align with issues they care about. Engage the millennial demographic across the U.S. who identify with and purchase products from organizations who support causes they support.

Maintain peace of mind. Due to the science-based nature of the D4D seal, participating companies have peace of mind that the recommended disposal method is not based on trend; meaning, if discarded according to D4D, the material will most likely reach a sustainably beneficial end-point.

Invest in the future. Globally, 72% of consumers aged 15-20 are willing to pay more for environmental products, this opens an opportunity to grow market share and build loyalty among those who will be driving the economy of tomorrow. (Nielsen online survey 2015)

Reduce carbon emissions. Effective recycling and energy recovery reduce carbon emissions.

Avoid greenwashing. D4D has a solid foundation with over two decades of science and data supporting the program.

Reduce marine litter. Properly discarded items and clean recycling streams reduce the chance that a product will be shipped overseas to countries that allow flows of waste into oceans.

Reinforce positive consumer experience. D4D engrains a “feel good” response 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. This moves beyond the trend of “recycle everything” to a more sustainable, science-based approach of maximum value.

Put the science where your mouth is! The D4D seal provides brands and manufacturers with a factual, data-driven basis to:

  • Encourage the design of products that are environmentally responsible.
  • Communicate this information effectively to customers and consumers.
  • Ensure waste materials from these products are discarded in as sustainable a manner as possible now, while encouraging discard to endpoints that maximize sustainability.
Are my products D4D eligible?

The D4D Compliant validation provides third-party verification that your product is valuable both economically and environmentally after use.

Savvy brand owners understand the value of independent validation regarding environmental claims and look to obtain D4D Compliant validation for their products and packaging.

D4D Compliant validation is available for various plastic, paper and metal materials.  Here are some examples of potential validation paths for various products:

When your product is D4D validated, you will be confident that the process is backed by decades of research, scientific data and an unbiased approach to sustainable end-of-life materials management.

Products validated as D4D Compliant prominently display the appropriate D4D discard logo on their label. This logo provides clear instructions to the consumer on the proper method of discard after use, to reduce the occurrence of misplaced waste. This builds on organizational goals of Zero Waste, Recyclable, Compostable and Recoverable, Circular Economy and Extended Producer Responsibility.

How do I become validated?

Validating your product as D4D Compliant begins with completing an application and submitting a sample of your product to Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) for evaluation.

During the evaluation, EREF will use existing research, scientific data, information from the application, test reports and observations of the sample product to analyze both the environmental and economic impact of your product at discard. This includes answering questions such as:

  • What discard options are available to the consumer?
  • How will a consumer normally discard the product?
  • What are the environmental impacts of the available discard methods?
  • Does the size, shape or material of the product affect its ability to be recycled, composted or converted into energy?
  • Does the product provide economic and environmental value once discarded?

Once the evaluation is complete, your product will either carry the honor of D4D Compliance, or EREF will provide additional direction on what can be done to achieve the validation (when possible).

Products are re-evaluated at minimum every three years.

What is the D4D difference?

Designed for Discard is a third-party end-of-life validation seal developed by the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF), a 501(c)3 non-advocacy charity. EREF’s mission is to advance research and education for sustainable waste management practices.

D4D is based on scientific, peer-reviewed research and technical evaluation to create data-driven sustainable discard management for products that incorporates material characteristics, current waste management infrastructure, operational processes and social behavior. As a result, EREF considers environmental benefits of not just one, but all of today’s end-of-life options (e.g. composting, recycling, conversion to energy) while advancing the circular economy of tomorrow.

This is the first program that brings together all parts of the value chain (manufacturing, retail, consumer and waste management) to represent your environmental commitment and the results that your dedication has achieved.

Designed for Discard provides brands and manufacturers with the tools and expertise needed to design products that are environmentally responsible and communicate this effectively to consumers.

D4D allows consumers to recognize your product’s enhanced sustainability while avoiding the green-washing that is all too common when specific industries create programs meant to promote their special interest (i.e. such as “recyclable” or “compostable” without any validation of the expected discard location or ability to be processed in the respective environment).

D4D is not just another logo to put on your product, and it does much more than instruct on the method of discard. It is a symbol for trust, dedication and backed by solid science. Every product awarded the D4D designation has been rigorously tested and evaluated against a strict set of criteria.

D4D Compliant products rise above the current trend and are validated to remain a value to our community beyond the end of their normal use.

With all the validation seals out there, what makes D4D different?

D4D is the ONLY sustainability validation seal that considers all possible discard options (recyclability, compostability and conversion to energy) coupled with environmental impact, consumer behavior and available waste management infrastructure to create the most robust, scientifically valid and practical program available. Other programs available with specific objectives, such as recycling, composting, landfill diversion or using bio-based materials, tend to evaluate a specific feature of a product, but they do not comprehensively evaluate the end-of-life impact from a holistic and results oriented perspective. EREF prefers no specific end-point, focusing solely on ensuring the product reaches an end-point with the least environmental burden and maximum economic value.

What materials are included in the D4D program?

Initially, the focus of D4D will be on single use and disposable plastics, paper and metal. While not all products will meet the evaluation criteria, most manufactured product types will be considered for initial evaluation.  Exceptions would include products that are not typically discarded in a sustainable manner, such as plastic shot shell casings for firearms, which are typically ejected onto the ground and not recovered.

How long does the evaluation take?

The evaluation will typically take 3-6 weeks if all the required testing is complete and submitted with the application. Some products may have unique characteristics or distribution models that require additional time for evaluation.

How long does my D4D validation last?

The D4D validation is renewed every 3 years. Any changes to your product or its distribution region may necessitate a review of your validation to make sure the product remains eligible.

How much does the validation cost?

The total costs include both the application processing fee and an annual licensing fee. The amount of the fees is related to the annual sales of the product being validated, how many of your products are validated and other such factors, in general smaller brands pay less than larger ones. Please contact us directly to discuss costs relative to your specific scenario.

Can I have a D4D Compliant product and also be a D4D Supplier or Partner?

YES! D4D is a program intended to include and recognize involvement from all sectors of the supply chain. It would be very common for a company who has D4D Compliant products to also be a D4D Partner. Are monies I pay tax deductible? This would be a good question for your accountant. EREF is a 501(C-3) charity and monies paid go to supporting the D4D program, educational outreach, community support and furthering research of sustainable waste practices.

If I have one D4D Compliant product, does that make all my products validated?

D4D validation is very rigorous and is specific to the product you submitted. The validation only applies to the product on your application. Should you have additional products, they should be submitted on a separate application. In the event that the new product is very similar to a validated product, EREF may consider adding that product to an existing application.

Is this a certification?

No. This is a validation seal program, backed by scientific research and practical operational criteria, that evaluates a product based on all possible discard end-points rather than just a single end-point. The reality is that simply making a material suitable for one end-point option (e.g. solely for recycling, composting or waste to energy) is not enough. In fact, many materials that are suited for a particular end-point do not end up there due to factors such as: consumer behavior, access to bins or drop-off centers, availability of community recovery/diversion programs, etc. Thus, a particular product or material’s sustainability is also based on considerations such as its geographic distribution and other factors that EREF includes as evaluation criteria.