Recycling Symbols: How To Identify And What Do They Mean

There is no such thing as ‘Away’.
When you throw anything away it must go somewhere.

Annie Leonard

This quote shout outs the importance of recycling. While plastic is a growing environmental concern, recycling is one of the small ways to tackle it. Most people only know the tiny three green arrows looping to form a triangle as the symbol of recycling. Being informed about the recycling symbols will help you in doing your part in taking care of plastic waste.

Following are some of the recycling symbols:

1. Mobius

This symbol is a triangle composed of three arrows looping
behind each other in a clockwise direction. It indicates that the product
can be recycled. It does not necessarily mean that the product is itself
made from recycled material. Sometimes, there is a percentage given
inside this symbol, indicating how much part of the item comes from
recycled material. When this symbol appears on a plastic item, there will
be a number from 1-7 inside the loop. These numbers indicate the types
of plastic, and that one is more or less easy to recycle.

  1. PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate): Easiest to recycle, most commonly
    found in soda bottles, food packaging, etc.
  2. HDPE (High-density Polyethylene): Widely recycled, found in milk jugs,
    juice bottles, bleach and detergent containers, etc. 
  3. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): It is a bit harder to recycle, used in piping, cables, wire jacketing, etc. 
  4. LDPE ( Low-density Polyethylene): Is recyclable, but not a lot of recycling centers accept it, is a flexible plastic, and is found in shopping bags, squeezable bottles, etc. 
  5. PP (Polypropylene): It is durable but hard to recycle, should be reuse, is found in medicine bottles, straws, etc. 
  6. PS (Polystyrene): Difficult to recycle and should be reused, found in disposable plates, cups, egg cartons, etc.   
  7. Other (BPA, Lexan, etc.): Tricky to recycle, found in DVDs, five-gallon water bottles, electronics, etc.

2. Widely Recycled

This symbol states that the product is widely recycled, which means more than 75% of recycling authorities will accept it for recycling. 


Widely Recycled Symbol

3. The Green Dot

This is a symbol of financial contribution. When you see it on the packaging, it states that for the packaging, the manufacturer has made a financial contribution to the recycling facilities of that state. 

The Green Dot Symbol

4. Recyclable Aluminium

This symbol means that the product is made out of aluminium. This aluminium is recyclable. It is found in foil sheets, aluminium food containers, etc. 

Recyclable Aluminium Symbol

5. Compostable

This symbol means that the product is industrially certified compostable. It does not necessarily mean that the product comes under the recycling category. One can drop it into the garden or kitchen waste. 

Compostable Symbol

6. Tidyman

This symbol asks and encourages people to dispose of the packaging after use into the bins. It is not directly related to recycling but asks you to be a responsible citizen and not litter. 

Tidyman Symbol

7. Forest Certified

The FSC logo, also called a ‘tick tree’ symbol, indicates the certification of the product under the FSC system. It means that you can buy these forest products confidently. You will be ensuring that the forest is safe and preserved for future generations.

Forest Certified Symbol

Also Read: How Small Houses Encourage Sustainable Living