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What Do the Plastic Recycling Symbols Mean?

With a higher awareness on climate change and waste, more people and businesses are actively trying to reduce their waste and recycle as much as possible. However, it can be more confusing than it sounds. What can and can’t be recycled isn’t always clear and varies by postcode.

All packaging should have instructions for disposal, usually as a symbol found on the underside or back of the item. Many of these recycling symbols come with self-explanatory instructions such as ‘widely recycled, remove sleeve’:

Image from ismwaste.co.uk

These logos are nice and comprehensive, but what about those other logos with no clear meaning? When you come across three arrows and a mysterious number in the middle, are you supposed to consult the stars or roll a dice? There’s no way of decoding them without trawling through Google results to try and find a straightforward answer.

In most cases, your local council website is the best option for finding out exactly which types of plastic you can recycle, but even here the specific packaging you’re holding might not be listed.

To help you out, we’ve created a handy poster for those frustrating numbered plastic resin codes:

Click here to open a PDF you can download and keep near your recycling bins.

Other recycling logos explained

The Green Dot Symbol

Arguably one of the most misleading recycling logos as it’s regularly confused with the three-arrowed Mobius Loop, this green dot does not mean the product is recyclable. It simply means that the producer of the item has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging in Europe.

Glass Symbol

Glass is one of the few materials that is 100% recyclable, so it should never go in general waste. Some waste collections ask for glass to be separated from other recyclable products, so this logo simply means that if you cannot recycle glass products at home, take them to your nearest bottle bank.

Recyclable Aluminium Symbols

Aluminium is another material which alone is 100% recyclable. This symbol indicates that the product is made from recyclable aluminium. However, check with your local collection service that they take foil before trying to recycle it with everything else.

Recyclable Steel Symbol

Products with this symbol are made from steel and can easily be recycled by local authorities. You may need to check with your local authorities when recycling other steel and metal items.

Compostable Symbol

Some plastics are compostable and will have this logo on them. This means that they cannot be recycled, as they are designed to be broken down, not repurposed. Put these in your compost bin if you have one, or in your garden waste collection.

Waste Electricals Symbol

Electrical items should be recycled separately from other household waste. This includes everything from kettles and hairdryers to lawnmowers and phones. Some local authorities and specialist recycling bodies can take them off your hands, but remember to wipe any personal data from electricals first.

Willshee’s Skip Hire provides a comprehensive recycling service and actively strives to take as little to landfill as possible.

Call us today on 01283 702 340 or email at sales@willshees.co.uk to discuss your recycling requirements and see how we can help.


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