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Recycling symbols explained

Posted By Christina on April 2, 2022

There’s a general misconception that recycling is complicated and very time-consuming. This False! Recycling is an easy practice that can be incorporated into your daily routine. It’s the least we could do to protect the environment. This practice can become even easier when you familiarize yourself with the official recycling symbols that can be found on products. Therefore, we created this guide that explains all the major recycling symbols, including the plastic recycling symbols so you can become a recycling superhero!  

The on-pack recycling label (or OPRL) 

These labels will tell you whether the packaging is likely to be collected for recycling or if you can take it to your local recycling centre. You can find these labels on all sorts of packaging - from soft drink cans to bread bags, fruit packages and plastic toiletry bottles. If you are not sure about an item, then enter your postcode into the Recycling Locator to find out what you can put in your recycling bin at home, where your nearest recycling locations are and how to recycle specific items such as mobile phones and textiles. It is vital to note that not all packaging will have a recycling label, but this doesn't mean you can't recycle it.  

Recycle 

This label indicates that the packaging is collected by 75% or more of local authorities across the UK. The most common item with this label is plastic bottles. 

Recycle | Rinse 

Rinsing packaging, for example, food trays, ensure that any food doesn’t contaminate other materials, particularly if they are collected together with paper.  

Recycle | Rinse | Lid/Cap on 

Caps and lids under 40mm in diameter are too small to be captured for recycling. If you see this label, replacing the lid on the bottle ensures that it is recycled with the main packaging component. 

Don't Recycle | Remove Sleeve/Film  

You may see this label on packaging where film or liners can be easily removed via a strip without the usage of tools such as knives, pair of scissors etc. Most commonly, there are clear instructions on how to do so, e.g. “Peel here”. 

Plastic Resin Recycled Codes 

There are several types of plastic, and some facilities in the UK require the plastic to be separated before collection since each type of plastic needs to be disposed of in a slightly different way. 

A shaded Mobius loop, with a number inside ranging from 1 to 7 and a letter code, indicates the type of plastic the packaging is made from. The kind of plastic available are; 

  1. PET or PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate): Tubs and drink bottles are made from this plastic. It is the most widely used form of plastic. In fact, around 70% of all plastic bottles and containers in the United Kingdom are made from PETE and are recycled.
  2. HDPE (High-density polyethene): Shampoo, Detergents, milk/juice bottles, cable insulation and toys. They are widely recycled. 
  3. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Commonly found in clear food wraps (Clingfilm), toys, lining. Its logo usually has a V below the symbol. PVC is not recyclable in normal collections.
  4. LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene): It is used in carrier/bin bags, toys and general packaging. it is evident in plastic wrap and bags, and six-pack rings. These can now be recycled at local supermarkets or recycling facilities. 

  5. PP (Polypropylene): It is found in toys, automobile products, and lab equipment. PP plastics are often used to create packagings, such as plastic tubs and containers, or drinks cartons. It can also be used to create furniture. This type of plastic can be recycled. 

  1. PS (Polystyrene), is used to create plastic utensils, CD jewel cases, and foam. Polystyrene is sometimes referred to as Styrofoam and is used for packaging, to protect fragile items from getting damaged. Due to the mixture of compounds, these plastic types are not generally recycled in the UK.

  1. Other (O) means everything else, like nylon, acrylic, or fibreglass. This category includes items such as fibreglass and acrylic plastic. Similar to number 6, these plastics are also difficult to recycle. 

Other symbols 

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

The Green Dot 

The green dot is a symbol that indicates that the producer has contributed to the recycling and recovery of the packaging material. It does not necessarily mean the material has been recycled or is recyclable. 

Tidyman 

The Tidyman symbol was introduced as part of a UK initiative ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ which aimed to remove waste from the streets. It doesn't relate to recycling but is a reminder to be a good citizen, disposing of the item most appropriately.  

Compostable 

The products or packaging with this symbol indicate that they can be composted. This could include food or garden waste as well as certain types of packaging – which you can dispose of via composting. On some occasions, a slight variation of this logo will inform you whether this can be composted at home or a specialist facility 

Paper, card and wood 

This symbol signifies that the product has been approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FCS), meaning that it is produced in a way that is deemed environmentally friendly. It typically features products made from paper, cardboard and wood. 

Waste Electricals 

Waste electrical items, such as household appliances, mobile phones and IT equipment, bearing this symbol indicate that they can be recycled. 

 

Did you know that at Doodle Bag we also offer lovely Recycled Tote Bags - have a look at them here 

Recycling is essential for a clean, healthy environment; that's why it is vital to have a good understanding of the recycling symbols and what each one represents. We hope this blog helps you master your recycling skills!  

Don’t forget that your local council site has information on what can and can’t be recycled locally. They may also have other materials, like calendars, that contains this information, so make sure to check it out.

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