Recycling Symbols Explained


Packaging labels and recycling symbols are now appearing on lots of everyday items, and help us to identify how different types of packaging can be recycled.


The on-pack recycling label (or OPRL)

Look out for the following labels, which appear on all sorts of packaging - from soft drink cans, to bread bags and plastic toiletry bottles. They will tell you the kind of packaging the item has and whether the packaging is recyclable. If it is, the label will also tell you whether you can put the packaging in your kerbside recycling bin or take to your local recycling centre.


Remember: not all packaging will have a recycling label but this doesn't mean you can't recycle it.


Widely recycled

75% or more of councils provide household recycling collection facilities for that packaging type in their area.
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Check label recycling

Used when 20% - 75% of councils have household recycling collection facilities for that packaging type in their area.
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Not currently recycled

Used when less than 20% of councils have household recycling collection facilities for that packaging type in their area.
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BEV CARTONS - Widely recycled at recycling points_0

Widely recycled at recycling points: check locally for kerbside

Recycling provision exists in over 75% of councils (including both household recycling collections and at recycling centres). A household recycling collection exists in less than 75% of councils.
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FILM - New versions with swoosh_1

Plastic films

Some plastic films can also now be recycled at supermarket's carrier bag collection points. Look out for the 'Recycle with carrier bags at large stores - not at kerbside' message on your bread bag, breakfast cereal, toilet and kitchen roll wraps, grocery produce, multipack shrink wrap and newspaper and magazine wraps.
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Empty Metal Paint Cans

Metal paint cans

Empty metal paint cans are accepted for recycling at most local authority recycling centres. Check your council's website for more information.
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Other recycling symbols

The following recycling symbols can be found on a variety of packaging and explain a range of information: whether or not an item can be recycled, how to dispose of the item, or if it's made of recycled material.


Mobius Loop

Indicates that an object is capable of being recycled - not that the object has been recycled or will be accepted in all recycling collection systems. Sometimes this symbol is used with a percentage figure in the middle to explain that the packaging contains x% of recycled material.
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the tidy man


Dispose of this carefully and thoughtfully. Do not litter. This doesn't relate to recycling, but is a reminder to be a good citizen, disposing of the item in the most appropriate manner.
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the green dot

The Green Dot

The Green Dot does not necessarily mean that the packaging is recyclable, will be recycled, or has been recycled. It is a symbol used on packaging in many European countries and signifies that the producer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging.
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Identifies the type of plastic resin used to make the item by providing a 'Resin Identification Code'. It is represented with a 'chasing arrows' symbol surrounding a a number between 1 and 7 that defines the resin used.
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Please dispose of glass bottles and jars in a bottle bank (but remember to separate colours) or use your glass household recycling collection if you have one.
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Recyclable aluminium

The item is made of recyclable aluminium.
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Recyclable steel

The product is made of recyclable steel.
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Waste electricals

Waste electrical items - from household applicances to mobile phones to IT equipment - can be recycled if you see this symbol.
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The 'seedling' is the registered trademark of European Bioplastics. Products certified to be industrially compostable according to the European standard EN 13432/14955 may bear the 'seedling' logo.
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napm recycled


To be given the National Association of Paper Merchants' mark, paper or board must be made from a minimum of 50%, 75% or 100% genuine waste paper and/or board fibre, no part of which should contain mill produced waste fibre
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The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo identifies products which contain wood from well managed forests independently certified in accordance with the rules of the FSC.
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