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Eco Symbol Glossary

Ever looked at the back of your dinner packaging to find a bunch of symbols that mean nothing to you? Ever stood at the recycling centre with your head in your hands wondering where on earth you're supposed to put anything?

Alongside our blog on eco symbols (which you can find here) we've compiled a glossary of both municipal and commonly used independent recycling symbols, as well as symbols that indicate other materials or disposal methods.

 


Aerosols

Around 60% of Aerosol cans are made from tinplated steel, and approximately 40% are made from aluminium, which is great because both of these metals are recyclable!

Important to note when recycling Aerosols!

  • Aerosol cans must be fully emptied before recycling them.
  • They can't be pierced, crushed or flattened before recycling.
  • Make sure to dispose of any easily removable parts by adding them to the rest of your recycling, i.e. plastic caps.

Carboard Recycling

Cardboard Recycling

Cardboard can be recycled at home or a recycling centre. These items include:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Corrugated cardboard boxes - remove any non cardboard parts
  • Greetings cards - remove any non cardboard parts
  • Delivery boxes
  • Toilet roll tubes - these are home compostable!

Important to note when recycling Cardboard!

  • Make sure any added items like tape, plastic or glitter have been removed before recycling.
  • Card that contains food, dirt or paint cannot be recycled.

Compostable Packaging

Items with the 'seedling' logo are certified to be industrially compostable according to the European standard EN 13432/14995.

Important to note with compostable packaging!

  • Compostable packaging is designed to break down naturally, so do not put compostable plastic into the recycling with other plastic, as it will contaminate recyclable plastics.
  • Double check whether your item is home compostable or industrial compostable, which should be specified on the packaging.

Don't Recycle 

Don't Recycle

If you see this symbol your item cannot be sorted, processed and recycled into new packaging or products.


Electrical Items

A number of electrical items can be recycled at a recycling centre. Items that qualify for this are:

  • Items with a plug, use batteries, need charging or have a wheelie bin icon on
  • Electrical garden tools i.e. lawnmower
  • Electrical hair appliances i.e. hairdryer
  • Electrical kitchen appliances i.e. toaster
  • Technology i.e. radio, TV

Important to note when recycling electrical items!

  • Look out for the wheelie bin icon on products, also known as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) these items can be recycled at a recycling centre.
  • You can find out more information at recycleyourelectricals.org.uk

FSC®

Items that feature the The Forest Stewardship Council/FSC® logo indicate that wood-based products have come from forests that have been responsibly managed and meet high environmental standards. 


Glass

When recycling glass containers, take them to a bottle bank to dispose of.

Important to note when recycling glass!

  • Make sure to separate your glass colours.
  • You can also recycle your glass in your household recycling collection.
  • Drinking glasses, glass cookware, light bulbs and vases cannot be recycled.
  • Make sure your glass has been rinsed and that there is no leftover liquid to contaminate other glass.
  • Keep the lids on your glass so these can also be recycled.
  • Remove any non-glass parts i.e. corks. 

Home Compostable Packaging

If you see this symbol you can put your item into your home compost bin to naturally decompose.

Important to note about home composting!

  • Do not put your home composting items in with your plastic recycling as this will contaminate these items.

Mobius Loop with a percentage

Items with the Mobius Loop with a percentage symbol indicate the amount of recycled material used and that the item can be recycled but may not be accepted in all recycling collection systems. This symbol is shown with a percentage symbol in the middle to explain the percentage of recycled materials that the packaging contains.


Paper Recycling

Paper Recycling 

Paper items can be recycled in your home recycling bin or at a recycling centre. These paper items include:

  • Brown paper
  • Clean paper
  • Computer and shredded paper
  • Envelopes
  • Magazines, brochures, leaflets
  • Newspapers and supplements


    Important to note when recycling paper!
  • Foil or plastic covered paper like gift wrapping cannot be recycled.
  • Paper that contains a grease stain like baking paper cannot be recycled.
  • Tissues or used paper towel cannot be recycled.
  • Any paper including a sticky back like post it notes cannot be recycled.
  • When recycling brown paper, recycle along with card as it can cause brown flecks in new paper.

Plastic Bags Recycling

Plastic Bags & Wrapping

Plastic bags and wrapping can both be recycled at home or at a recycling centre. These items include:

  • All plastic bags
  • Cereal bags
  • Delivery bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Magazine wrappers
  • Plastic marked as Recycling 4 LDPE - low-density polyethylene
  • Fruit and vegetable nets

    Important to note when recycling plastic bags!
  • Make sure there is no food or liquid on the plastic bag otherwise this will contaminate the items in the recycling process.
  • Take off any added sticky labels and dispose of separately.
  • Do not recycle compostable or biodegradable bags as these are not designed to be recycled and can contaminate the recycled materials.
  • You can also recycle your plastic bags at major supermarkets, check their information to see which materials they will accept.

Plastic Bottles

Plastic Bottles 

Plastic bottles can be recycled at home as well as at a recycling centre. These items include:

  • Clear and coloured plastic bottles
  • Bathroom bottles i.e. bleach bottles
  • Detergent bottles
  • Drink bottles
  • Shampoo bottles
  • Milk bottles

Important to note when recycling plastic bottles!

  • Plastic bottles containing chemicals like anti-freeze cannot be recycled.
  • Make sure that when recycling your bottles they are completely empty and have been rinsed of any excess liquid as this can contaminate the recycling process.
  • Squash down any bottles that can be to save space.
  • Leave any lids that are attached to the bottle on as these can be recycled as well.

Plastic Pots, Tubs & Trays

Plastic Pots, Tubs & Trays

Plastic pots, tubs and trays can both be recycled at home and in a recycling centre. These items include:

  • Yoghurt and soup pots
  • Ice-cream and butter tubs
  • Vegetable punnets and takeaway trays
  • Chocolate tubs and trays
  • Plant pots that are not black

Important to note when recycling plastic pots, tubs and trays!

  • Make sure to rinse out your pots, tubs and trays as any excess liquid or food can contaminate the recycling process.
  • Any extra packaging can be recycled separately like cardboard, paper or plastic sleeves.
  • Remove any non recyclable items and dispose of separately.
  • Paint pots cannot be recycled alongside the above items, but can be recycled at your recycling centre alongside other paint pots.
  • Black plastics cannot be recycled. 

Recyclable Aluminium

If you see this symbol on your packaging it indicates that it has been made from recyclable aluminium. These items can be placed into an aluminium or mixed metal recycling container.

Important to note when recycling Aluminium!

  • Make sure your items have been thoroughly rinsed from any excess food or drink.

Recycle

Recycle

If you see this symbol on your packaging it indicates that an item can be recycled and made into new packaging or products. Please see other points for specific recycling measures.


Recycle Bottle Cap on

Recycle - Bottle Cap On - Don't Recycle - Remove Sleeve

If you see this symbol on your packaging it indicates that components of packaging need to be separated before disposing of them. For example, you may see this symbol on a product with an added sleeve or film liner, simply remove this and recycle or dispose of separately.


Recycle Rinse

Recycle - Rinse

If you see this symbol on your packaging it indicates that you need to fully rinse your packaging of any excess food or liquid before recycling. Recycling items with food and liquid in/on can contaminate other items in the recycling process.


Recycle Rinse Lid on

Recycle - Rinse - Lid On

If you see this symbol on your packaging it indicates that you need to fully rinse your packaging for any excess food or liquid before recycling, as well as keeping the lids on your packaging. This is due to some caps and lids beeing too small to recycle on their own.


Recycle with Bags at Large Supermarkets

Recycle with Bags at Large Supermarkets - Don't Recycle at Home

If you see this symbol on your packaging it indicates that you can only recycle your bags at a large supermarket with a recycling bag facility, these cannot be recycled with your normal home recycling. These items include:

  • Bread bags
  • Fruit and veg packets
  • Crisp packets
  • Chocolate packets 

Recycling 1 - PET

(Polyethylene Terephthalate)

PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is most commonly used for drinks bottles and some food packaging. PET is an inexpsenive, easy and lightweight material to recycle.

Other items that are made from PET are:

  • Soft drinks
  • Water bottles
  • Food bottles i.e. ketchup
  • Mouthwash bottles
  • Condiment containers i.e. peanut butter
  • Oil bottles i.e. vegetable oil

    How to recycle PET:
  • Make sure the items have been fully rinsed or emptied of food or drink.
  • Check for other recycling symbols as to whether the cap/lid can be kept on the product or not.
  • Labels can be kept on items as the recycling process separates them.
  • Add into your home recycling or take items to a recycling centre.

    PET is recycled into materials such as polar fleece, tote bags, furniture, bottles and food containers.

Recycling 2 - HDPE

Recycling 2 - HDPE

(High Density Polyethylene)

HDPE (high-density polyethylene) is used for a variety of items and packaging. HDPE is easily recyclable into lots of different products.

Other items that are made from HDPE are:

  • Milk cartons
  • Juice bottles
  • Cleaning bottles i.e. bleach bottles
  • Shampoo bottles
  • Butter and yoghurt tubs
  • Cereal liners

    How to recycle HDPE:
  • Some recycling centres only recycle HDPE if the item has a neck, others allow all HDPE products.
  • Plastics such as grocery bags and plastic wrap may not be able to be recycled, however some supermarkets will collect these items and recycle them.
  • All other HDPE products can either be home recycled or recycled at a recycling centre.

    HDPE is recycled into materials such as detergent bottles, pens, recycling containers, benches and shampoo bottles.

Recycling 3 - PVC

Recycling 3 - PVC 

(Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a tough and weather well material, most commonly used for car parts or window fittings. PVC is a cheap material but contains chlorine which if burned releases highly dangerous toxins.

Other items that are made from PVC are:

  • Piping
  • Cladding
  • Blister packaging
  • Wire Jacketing
  • Wire cables

    How to recycle PVC:
  • PVC is not easily recyclable, but is accepted by some plastic lumber makers.
  • Make sure to check with your local waste management provider whether the item can be recycled.

    PVC is recycled into materials such as paneling, flooring, cables and mats.

Recycling 4 - LDPE

Recycling 4 - LDPE

(Low Density Polyethylene)

LDPE (low-density polyethylene) is mainly used for plastic bags and wrapping. LDPE is a flexible plastic that is starting to be accepted in many recycling programs.

Other items that are made from LDPE are:

  • Plastic bags
  • Wrapping
  • Squeezable bottles
  • Bread bags
  • Furniture

    How to recycle LDPE:
  • LDPE can not be recycled at home but can be recycled at some supermarkets. Check your local supermarket to see if they offer this special recycling drop off.
  • Check your packaging to see how you should recycle it.

    LDPE is recycled into materials such as bin liners, compost bins, envelopes, lumber and tiles.

Recycling 5 - PP

Recycling 5 - PP

(Polypropylene)

PP (polypropylene) is made into tubs and trays. PP has a high melting point which is why it's most suitable for items that contain a liquid that can be heated.

Other items that are made from PP are:

  • Yoghurt pots
  • Medicine bottles
  • Microwaveable plastic containers
  • Straws

    How to recycle PP:
  • PP can be widely recycled but make sure to thoroughly clean the container before recycling as excess food or liquid can contaminate other products in the recycling process.

    PP is recycled into pallets, trays, bins, bicycle racks, signal lights and gardening equipment.

Recycling 6 PS

Recycling 6 - PS

(Polystyrene)

PS (polystyrene) is used for takeaway boxes, disposable cutlery and shipping packaging. PS is not an easily recyclable material which is why there are many alternatives to using polystyrene, see our packaging accessories here.

Other items that are made from PS are:

  • Disposable plates and cups
  • Meat trays
  • Egg cartons
  • Takeaway boxes
  • Disposable cutlery
  • CD cases

    How to recycle PS:
  • Polystyrene can not be easily recycled. Check with your local recycling centres to see whether they accept this material.
  • To dispose of, place into a bag and squeeze out as much air as possible before tying up, this will prevent any small pieces from breaking away.

    PS is recycled into insulation, light switch covers, egg cartons, rulers and foam packaging.

Recycling 7 - Other

Recycling 7 - Other 

If you see the symbol Recycling 7, this applies to any miscellaneous products that do not fit into the other 6 categories. Types of plastics that fall into this miscellaneous category are:

  • Polycarbonate - a clear, hard plastic
  • PLA (polylactic acid) - made from plants and is carbon neutral

    Other items that showcase the Recycling 7 symbol:
  • Three and five gallon water bottles
  • Bulletproof materials
  • Sunglasses
  • DVDs
  • Clear plastic cutlery
  • Lighting fixtures

    How to recycle items that showcase the Recycling 7 symbol:
  • Most of these items cannot be recycled. Check with your local council and recycling centres to see the specific instructions of disposing of these items.
  • Items made from PLA tend to be recyclable but make sure to check on the packaging itself for further recycling information.

    Recycling 7 symbol products can be recycled into custom-made products.

The Green Dot

The Green Dot

If you see 'The Green Dot' symbol this means that the producer of this item has financially contributed towards the recovery and recycling of packaging across Europe. This does not mean that the item itself has been recycled or is recyclable. Check for other symbols to see whether any of the 7 appear on your item.


Tidyman

Tidyman

If you see the 'Tidyman' symbol this is a reminder to not litter and dispose of your packaging/item appropriately.


Waste Electricals

Waste Electricals

If you see this symbol then you should not dispose of your electrical items in your normal waste bin. These can be recycled at your local recycling centre, or via some retailers. These specific places can be contacted for more information.


Wood Recycling

Wood Recycling

Wood and timber can be recycled at a recycling centre.

Important to note when recycling wood and timber!

  • They cannot be recycled with your household recycling.
  • Contact your local recycling centre to find out whether they can recycle wood and timber.
  • There are also organisations that will also collect your wood to use for recycling - you can search online to find one local to you.

 

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