All About Recycling Symbols

Many packaging labels today contain different recycling symbols and other directions to assist with proper waste disposal. Knowing the meaning of the symbols can help you identify how the packaging should be disposed of, and the right recycling containers for each type of waste.

The On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL)

This label appears on different kinds of packaging including bread bags, soft drink cans, and even plastic toiletry bottles. It informs the consumer if the packaging is usually collected for recycling, or if you can dispose of it via your local recycling centre.

Since the local authorities collect different materials, the labels are somewhat general and simply express what most of them collect or do not collect. So while all packaging may not have a recycling label, this does not necessarily imply that it can’t be recycled.

Widely Recycled

Widely Recycled

This label appears on packaging that is collected by over 75% of local authorities, like plastic bottles.

Check Locally

Check Locally

This label appears on packaging that is collected by between 20% and 75% of local authorities, like specific plastic packaging.

Not Yet Recycled

Not Yet Recycled

This label appears on packaging that is collected by less than 20% of the local authorities, like crisp packets.

Widely Recycled at Recycling Points: Check Locally Curbside

Widely Recycled at Recycling Points: Check Locally Curbside

This label is usually found on paint cans that are recycled by more than 75% of local authorities, as well as recycling centres and household recycling collections.

Recycle with Bags at Larger Stores: Check Locally for Curbside

Recycle with Bags at Larger Stores: Check Locally for Curbside

This label is found on plastic films that can be recycled at carrier bag collection points. It is likely to be found on grocery produce, bread bags, kitchen and toilet roll wraps, breakfast cereal, multipack shrink-wrap, and magazine and newspaper wraps purchased at larger stores.

Other Symbols

There are other symbols that can be found on different kinds of packaging to deliver a wide range of information, such as whether the item is made of recycled material, if it can be recycled, and how to dispose of it.

The Green Dot

The Green Dot

This symbol is typically found in Europe-packaged products to signify that the manufacturer has contributed financially towards the recovery and recycling of Europe packaging.

Mobius Loop

Mobius Loop

This symbol indicates that the item can be recycled. However, this does not necessarily mean that the item will be accepted in all recycling collection programs.

Plastic Resin Codes

Plastic Resin Codes

The symbol contains a Resin Identification Code, a number between 1 and 7 that identifies the type of plastic resin used to make the item.

Final Note

There are other specialized recycling symbols for glass, steel, aluminium, electrical, paper, wood, and other materials utilised by individual manufacturers. The list is simply endless, as additional symbols continue to emerge as new variations of recycled and recyclable products are produced.

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