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Packaging Labels and Recycling Symbols Explained

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    Posted on 17th November 2015 by Hintons

    On-pack recycling labels, or OPRLs, can be found on many consumer items and are designed to let you know how they can be recycled. While they take some of the guesswork out of recycling, it’s important to know that items without an OPRL could possibly still be recycled. The following is a list of the most widely used symbols:

    Widely Recycled

    At least 75% of local councils arrange for household collection of these items.

    Check local recycling

    This symbol applies to items which are collected by between 20% and 75% of local authorities.

    Not currently recycled

    When less than 20% of local authorities arrange for collection for this type of item, there will be a ‘not currently recycled’ label.

    Widely recycled at recycling points

    Used when 75% of authorities provide either local household collection or at recycling centres, so it is important to check.

    Plastic films

    An increasingly common system, whereby a local supermarket provides an area for collections of plastic films where carrier bags can be left at the store.

    Metal paint cans

    Empty metal paint cans can be deposited at most, but not all, recycling centres. Check with your local authority.

    Mobius Loop

    This universal communicates if an item is made of materials that can be recycled. Variations include a solid-black version, or with a % that shows what proportion of recycled material the item contains.


    Although this doesn’t relate to recycling as such, it is the famous reminder to dispose of items carefully, based on the ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ initiative.

    The Green Dot

    This symbol, rather than indicating anything about the item, shows consumers that the producer is involved in the recycling process.


    Similar in appearance to the Mobius Loop, this symbol indicates which type of resin was used in the production on a scale of 1 to 7.


    A reminder that glass items can safely be recycled in a bottle bank, at a supermarket, recycling centre or via select local collections.

    Recyclable aluminium

    Denotes an aluminium item that can be widely recycled in either household collections or at centres. If no symbol is shown, and you are unsure if the item is aluminium, perform the ‘scrunch’ test. If the item remains scrunched when you crush it in your hand, it is aluminium foil and can be recycled.

    Recyclable steel

    This OPRL means that the can or tin is recyclable via local authority collection or recycling centres.

    Waste electricals

    The WEEE symbol shows that any waste electrical appliances, such as mobile phones, can be recycled so should not be disposed of in the household dustbin but via a separate collection for electrical items.


    The image of the seedling is the mark of European Bioplastics, which indicates the item to be compostable in an industry setting via European standards.


    The recycled paper sign is given to those products which have been manufactured with waste paper, with the amount used shown as a percentage in the middle of the symbol.


    The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo shows that the wood used has come from a sustainable forest, identified by the independent body itself.


    While OPRLs can give a good indication of what to do with recyclables, the best advice is always to check with local councils. Here at Hinton’s Waste, we can also provide expert recycling advice and services for those tricky items, so please feel free to contact us either via our online contact form with any queries you may have.



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