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The Definitive Guide to Packaging Symbols

Don’t be Bamboozled by Packaging Symbols. Here’s our handy guide.

Manufacturers are using an increasing number of symbols on their packaging in order to help the consumer decide what can and can’t be recycled. This is all well and good but maybe it would have been more helpful to explain why and what these recycling symbols actually mean. So to help all consumers, not just members of the Rubbish Please family, we’ve devised this definitive list. Hopefully you’ll find the time to take a look and be better informed and able to improve your level of household recycling.

OPRL or On-Pack Recycling Label

Recycling Packaging SymbolsMany of the items you buy in the supermarket now have a label on the packaging which gives the purchaser an idea of the kind of packaging used. Whether it can be recycled kerbside or needs to be taken to the local recycling centre. All manner of products from fizzy drinks cans and bottles to toiletry containers have this added information, designed to improve the general level of recycling right across the UK. We’d like to point out that just because there’s no recycling symbol it doesn’t mean the packaging can’t be recycled. It’s always good to check before throwing any kind of packaging in your normal household waste container. Let’s look at some of the most common symbols you might encounter:

Widely recycled – a household collection service has been introduced by more than 75% of local councils, this type of packaging often includes glass.

Check local recycling – this is used when 20 – 75% of local councils have introduced a service for the collection of this particular type of packaging, for example plastic food trays.

Not currently recycled – used if less than 20% of councils provide a kerbside collection for this type of packaging, such materials can include plastic film.

Widely recycled at recycling points: check locally for kerbside – pretty explanatory really. There is a recycling provision in over 3/4 of council areas for this materials collection but you would need to check locally whether it is collected kerbside.

Plastic films – some supermarkets now allow certain types of plastic film to be recycled in their carrier bag collection points, check for this symbol.

Metal paint cans – these can be accepted for recycling at most local authority recycling centres.

The symbols you encounter are actually pretty self explanatory but there’s nothing wrong with having a little reminder to help you meet your recycling responsibilities.

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