What The Recycle Symbols On Your Packaging Mean

recycle symbols explained.

It's Recycle Week 2021 from 20th-26th September and we wanted to help by informing you of what the recycle symbols mean on your packaging. This year's theme for Recycle Week is Step It Up and fight climate change, and we believe by educating ourselves on how to recycle each item properly is a great start!

In this blog post we want to outline the most common recycling symbols on packaging and give you some resources to find out more on whether you can recycle your item in your bin or at a local recycling centre.

Recycling Symbols Explained

The On Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) will explain to you whether your packaging can be recycled or needs to be taken to a local recycling centre, but as this is based on the majority it is best that you always double check. If you are uncertain on a item you can check whether it can be recycled at home or needs to be taken to a local recycling centre by checking the Recycling Locator.

Recycle Symbol

recycle symbol.

Packaging with this symbol can be collected and recycled by 75% or more of local authorities in the UK.

Rinse Recycle Symbol

recycle rinse symbol.

This symbol means that you should rinse your packaging before recycling so any food traces do not contaminate other items in your bin or someone else's.

Rinse Lid On Recycle Symbol

rinse lid on symbol.

This symbol means you should replace the lid after washing the item, so the lid is captured and recycled with the main packaging. This ensures the lid does not get lost and it is known that it can be recycled.

Partially Recyclable Symbol

don't recycle symbol.

Some packaging can be partially recycled and so it will tell you which parts can be and which parts cannot be. In some cases the film, liner or sleeve can be easily removed by using the perforated line, so look out for this.

Flatten Cap On Recycle Symbol

flatten cap on recycle symbol.

By flattening the packaging whether that is a beer can or fizzy drink plastic bottle, it means that the transport and handling of these items is much more efficient when you do this.

Recycle With Bags At Large Supermarket | Do Not Recycle At Home

recycle with bags at large supermarkets symbol.

This means you cannot recycle at home but you can take it to a large supermarket and recycle it with other plastic bags.

Did you know... 89% of the UK recycle but many of us are still confused with the labelling and which bin we should be putting certain items in.

Other recycling symbols explained

The Green Dot

the green dot recycling symbol.

The Green Dot at first glance can make most people think that an item is recyclable, but unfortunately it does not mean that with this symbol alone. Instead this symbol means that the producer of this material has made a financial contribution the recovery and recycling of packaging in Europe.

The Mobius Loop

the mobius loop.

This symbol on packaging means that this material is capable of being recycled but does not mean that you will have a facility near you that will be able to recycle it. There is also sometimes a percentage in the centre of this symbol that will tell you how much of this packaging has been recycled.

Glass Recycle Symbol

glass recycle symbol.

This means the glass container can be recycled and if using a bottle bank, you must remember to separate the colours.

Recyclable Aluminium Symbol

recyclable aluminium symbol.

When packaging holds this symbol, it means that the aluminium used is recyclable.

Waste Electricals Symbol

waste electricals symbol.

If an item has this symbol on it, you should not put this electrical item in your general waste and instead check Recycle Now's What To Do With Electrical Items.

Plastic Resin Codes

plastic resin code symbol.

This tells you what type of plastic resin was used to make the material and the number identifies the resin so you can look up whether it can be recycled. There are 7 numbers within this symbol that we will list below, so you know what they mean and which ones can be recycled and which ones cannot.

What plastic numbers can be recycled?

1 - PET

1-pete symbol.

This plastic is the most widely recycled plastic and is usually in relation to clear plastic bottles, including mouthwash and even yogurt pots but always check the label to be sure.

2 - HDPE 

2 hdpe symbol.


This plastic can be recycled but it is always worth checking with your local authority just incase it isn't recycled in your area. If your local authority says they recycle things like milk bottles, plastic bottle caps, bleach bottles, shampoo bottles, margarine tubs, ice cream tubs then you will be able to put HDPE in your recycle bin.

4 - LDPE

4-ldpe symbol.

This can be recycled but you must check with your local authority to make sure your area does recycle this hard but flexible plastic. Examples of this include bread bags, frozen food bags, squeezable bottles and sometimes bubble wrap.

5 - PP

5 pp symbol.

PP plastic can be recycled but you must check with your local authority. These items include packing tape, straws, take away tubs, ketchup bottles, plastic picnic ware and plastic bags.

What plastic cannot be recycled?

3 - PVC

3 pvc symbol.

This unfortunately cannot be recycled and this would include cling film, hoses, plastic outdoor furniture.

6 - PS

6 ps symbol.

Polystyrene is not recyclable. There are two types polystyrene and expanded polystyrene. The first one including items like cd cases and some yoghurt pots. The expanded polystyrene including takeaway packaging, meat trays, packing peanuts, styrofoam and insulation.

7 - Other

7 other plastic symbol.

This includes bioplastics, crisp wrappers, plastic coated items like wrapping paper and BPA.

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