Curious Questions: What do all the different recycling symbols mean?

Figuring out what recycling symbols tell us about can and can’t be recycled can feel as if you’re trying to decipher the Da Vinci code. Rosie Paterson decodes nine of the most frequently used symbols used in the United Kingdom.

The mobius loop

The product can be recycled, but has not necessarily been made with recycled materials.


Recycle with bags at larger stores

Cereal bags, kitchen roll, bread and some magazine wraps are among things that can be recycled at a large supermarket here.


The green dot

The product likely isn’t recyclable, won’t be recycled and has not been made with recycled materials.
Instead, it signifies that the producer has donated money to recycling initiatives.


Compostable

Products certified to be industrially compostable according to agreed European standards.
Do not put compostable plastic into recycling bags with other plastics; recycle with your garden waste.


Check Locally

Signifies that 20%–70% of people have access to the necessary recycling facilities for this item.


Recyclable aluminium

Arguably the only recycling symbol that’s easy to decipher.


Widely Recycled

75% of people have access to the necessary recycling facilities for this particular item.
However, you might have to remove a sleeve, film or bottle top and dispose of it separately.


Not Yet Recycled

Not necessarily non-recyclable, as you might assume at first glance.
Instead this means that than 20% of people have access to the necessary facilities for this item.


Plastic resin codes

Almost all recyclable plastic bears this logo — the number tells the recycling centre which plastic resin has been used in the production process.
Confusingly — given the arrows — it does not follow that this plastic is recyclable.
The codes are as follows:

1 PET — plastic (plastic bottles), the most widely recycled
2 HDPE — (milk cartons, bottle caps, detergent bottles and so on), widely recycled, but check with your local recycling authority
3 PVC — (cling film), not recyclable in normal collections
4 LDPE — squeezable bottles, widely recycled, but check with your local recycling authority
5 PP — plastic straws, takeaway tubs and similar; can be recycled, but check with your local recycling authority
6 PS — polystyrene, plastic forks and yoghurt pots; cannot be recycled
7 — Other, cannot be recycled