What’s in a label?

What's in a label?

A guide to packaging recycling


We are a nation committed to recycling but while many people try to recycle as much as they can they are becoming increasingly perplexed about the symbols put on packaging – often leading them to wonder if they are helping as much as they could be.

So, what’s in a label? They should let you what type of packaging a product has and whether the packaging can be recycled using your household bin or if you’ll need to take it to your local recycling centre. 

Here are some common labels which appear on packaging from soft drink cans to food bags and plastic toiletry bottles.  Not all packaging has a recycling label, but this doesn’t mean you can’t recycle it.

Mobius Loop

This is a common sign but although most of us will be familiar with it they might not know that it shows that the packaging is capable of being recycled but it’s not necessarily accepted by all recycling collection facilities. Check with your local council before you put it in your bin.

The Green Dot

Not to be confused with the Mobius loop, the green dot doesn’t always mean that the packaging is recyclable, will be recycled, or has been recycled. It just means that the producer has made a financial contribution to the recovery and recycling of packaging.

Widely Recycled

If you see this symbol on packaging then over 75% of councils recycle this type of packaging but less than 75% collect it through household recycling – it might be at a recycling bank instead. Sounds tricky but if you have our recycling locator to hand you’ll be laughing all the way to the recycling bank.

Not Currently Recycled

Less than 20% of councils recycle this type of packaging but it is worth checking as local authorities are constantly working towards improved services and you might just be in an area that qualifies.

Widely Recycled at Recycling Points

If you see this symbol on packaging then over 75% of councils recycle this type of packaging but less than 75% collect it through household recycling – it might be at a recycling bank instead. Sounds tricky but if you have our recycling locator to hand you’ll be laughing all the way to the recycling bank.

Plastics

Numbers from 1 to 7 within this symbol (or Resin Identification Code) shows the type of plastic resin used to make the packaging. Usually, if it has a number 1 or 2 in the centre then it can be picked up through most household recycling collections – but always best to check with your local council for details in your area.

Some plastic films can also now be recycled at supermarkets’ carrier bag collection points. Look out for the ‘Recycle with carrier bags at large stores – not at kerbside’ message on your bread bag, breakfast cereal, toilet and kitchen roll wraps, grocery produce, multipack shrink wrap and magazine wraps then just drop off when you do your weekly shop. You’ll normally find the collection points near the entrance or after the tills.

Compostable

The ‘seedling’ symbol is the registered trademark of European Bioplastics and means that the product has been certified to be industrially compostable according to European standards. However, they don’t go in the recycling bin as they can’t be recycled they will have to go in with your general waste.

Paper

To be given the National Association of Paper Merchants’ mark, paper or board must be made from a minimum of 50%, 75% or 100% genuine wastepaper and/or board fibre and shouldn’t contain mill produced waste fibre. 

To find out more about recycling labels visit the link below: