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Guide to Recycling Symbols

Do you know what recycling symbols mean? A recent study discovered that 61% of adults in the UK do not understand the eight key recycling symbols that appear on thousands of supermarket items. Even more concerning is that a quarter of people do not understand the classic tidy man symbol of a figure putting litter in a bin as part of the Keep Britain tidy campaign. Of all the recycling symbols, “alu”, which means that the product has been created from recycled aluminum, causes the most confusion with 88% of people not understanding it. As Global Recycling Day happens on the 18th of this month, we have decided to provide a guide to these symbols to avoid further confusion and enable everyone to recycle as much as possible!

Mobius Loop
Three green arrows in a triangle simply mean that the item is capable of being recycled. Occasionally, a percentage may be present in the middle, this signifies how much of the item has been made from recycled materials.

These three arrows in a triangle mean the item is capable of being recycled. Plastics have seven categories, each is a different material that varies in its ability to be recycled. Numbers in the middle of the triangle represent these categories and act as identification when processed by recycling teams. In general, 1-2 are widely recycled, 3-4 need to be checked with your local authority, and 5-7 are hard or not possible to recycle. We recommend checking the number with your local authority for clarity.

Widely Recycled
This loop arrow with a green background represents that the product is widely recycled (by at least 75% of local authorities across the UK).

Financial Contribution
Two interlocking arrows in different shades of green mean that the manufacturer has made a financial contribution to European recycling services. It does not mean the product is recyclable.

As mentioned above, the symbol is part of the Keep Britain Tidy campaign. It does not strictly have anything to do with recycling, but it acts as a reminder to not litter and properly disposes of your waste.

Check Locally
A white circular arrow with a black background means that the product is recycled by 20-75% of UK regions, so check with your local authority beforehand.

Forest Certified
The abbreviation FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council. The symbol means that the item has been produced using wood sourced from a responsibility-managed forest adhering to the FSC’s independent guidelines.

The abbreviation “alu” in a black circle means that the product has been made from recyclable aluminum. This symbol can be present on foil, just make sure there is nothing left on the foil before you scrunch it up in a ball. Try and combine your foil together to make a bigger ball, the bigger the ball the easier it is to recycle.

The threaded-through leaf displays that the item is compostable. These items should not be placed in your normal recycling bin, they should be placed in your garden waste.

We hope this guide will help you in your recycling journey!

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