We like to encourage people to recycle and engage in responsible waste management practices here at Skip It. But one of the big challenges of making sure your household waste collection goes on to a good place is actually working out what is and isn’t recyclable.
You can have the noblest intentions in the world, but if you can’t tell the wheat from the chaff, then chances are it’s going in the landfill. Luckily, there’s a range of commonly used symbols that can help you work out what waste collection products are and are not recyclable. Here’s a look through just a few of them.
The ‘widely recycled’ sign consists of a single circular arrow on a green background, usually with the words ‘widely recycled’ underneath. In order to qualify for this sign, packaging must be recyclable in more than 75 per cent of UK local councils.
The widely recycled sign may have additional instructions above the arrow, such as ‘rinse’, ‘flatten’ or ‘cap on’. These are generally fairly self-explanatory: rinse the bottle, flatten the cardboard box or keep the bottle cap on.
When anywhere between 20 and 75 per cent of local councils accept something for recycling, the waste product usually features the ‘check locally’ sign. The arrow is identical to the ‘widely recycled’ sign, except it sits on a black background, accompanied with the ‘check locally’ instruction.
Not yet recycled
If a product is recycled by fewer than 20 per cent of local councils, or isn’t recycled at all, you’ll likely see a similar arrow on a black background as with the ‘check locally’ symbol, except with a diagonal line through the arrow.
Half and half
Some household waste products will combine different types of materials, not all of which is necessarily recyclable. This is particularly true for any packaging that has a plastic sleeve or film over the top of a tray or pot – with the former being rarely recycled and the latter more commonly.
You may therefore see any combination of the above signs for different parts of a waste product. In most cases, it’ll be easy enough to separate the two items, and the signs should clearly state which ones are recyclable.
The green dot
The ‘green dot’ symbol features two circular arrows intertwined within a spherical shape. This does not signify whether a product is recyclable, but indicates that the manufacturer has in some way taken productive steps to improving recycling and sustainability practices. This may indicate that the product itself contains recycled materials.
The Mobius Loop
The Mobius Loop, also often green, consists of three arrows pointing at each other in a triangular chain. It indicates that a product is recyclable, but not necessarily by all councils. It may often be accompanied by a number that reveals the category of plastic contained within (one to seven) or the percentage of recycled materials in the product.
Hopefully being a little more clued up on these symbols should help you know whether your waste collection products can or can’t be recycled in future.