Recycling symbols explained
The small recycling symbols on everyday packaged items help show you what material the item is made from, if you can recycle it, and where it might be able to be recycled. To avoid confusion when you look at your packaging, we have put together this handy guide to help you get symbol-savvy.
Remember: not all packaging will have a recycling label but this doesn't mean you can't recycle it.
This label is applied to packaging that is collected by 75% or more of Local Authorities across the UK.
To check whether we accept an item with this symbol on see what can I put in my recycling bins?
You may also see some of the following variations of this symbol with instructions on how to correctly recycle the packaging:
- Rinse - Rinse the packaging before recycling
- Lid on - keep the lid or cap on the item eg. Bottle
- Remove sleeve - make sure to remove the sleeve or film around the recyclable part of the packaging
Not Yet Recycled
Less than 20% of local authorities collect this type of packaging for recycling.
There may be other ways to recycle the item if we do not currently accept these items at kerbside. Check our Recycling A-Z or see alternative recycling options to find out how you can best dispose of your waste.
This symbol is used on packaging in some European countries and signifies that the producer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging in Europe.
The Green Dot does not necessarily mean that the packaging is recyclable, will be recycled or has been recycled.
This symbol means an item could be recycled, but not that it has been recycled or that it will be accepted in all recycling streams. You might find a percentage figure in the middle to show that the packaging contains a certain amount of recycled material.
Plastic Resin Code
This tells you what kind of plastic an item is made of - there are 7 different types. Preston City Council accept items made of plastics 1, 2 and 5 in your yellow lidded bin.
The 7 types of plastic are:
1. Polyethylene Terephthalate - one of the most common plastics, you will likely see this symbol on plastic bottles.
2. High-density polyethylene - this plastic is also very common, you can see this on your milk bottles.
3. Polyvinyl chloride - often used for things like window and door frames. Not recyclable.
4. Low Density Polyethylene - you might see this symbol on squeezy bottles and plastic film, but the plastic can be hard to recycle.
5. Polypropylene - Spot this on bottle tops or food trays.
6. Polystyrene - used for packaging but is not recyclable.
7. Other kinds of plastic not defined by groups 1-6 are put under this group and are usually not recyclable.
This symbol asks you to recycle the glass container. You can put glass bottles in your yellow lidded recycling bin.
This symbol indicates that the item is made from recyclable aluminium.
This symbol means that the product is made of steel. You can put steel cans in your yellow lidded recycling bin.
This symbol from Keep Britain Tidy asks you not to litter.
This symbol explains that you should not place the electrical item in the general waste.
You can dispose of broken electrical items at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre.
Products certified to be industrially compostable might have this 'seedling' logo.
Never place compostable plastics into the recycling with other plastics or into your garden waste bin.
This symbol means that the packaging is suitable to be Home composted.
This symbol from the Forest Stewardship Council shows that wood-based products are created from well-managed forests independently certified in accordance with the rules of the FSC.