Recycling symbol with recyclable items

Recycling 101

Recycling symbols explained

Recycling symbols appear on all sorts of packaging. They tell you if the packaging can be recycled or not (the swoosh with the heart arrow) or what the packaging is made from (the symbols further down the page).

Not all packaging comes with a recycling label, so if you’re not sure what to do with something, check our recycling locator tool to find out if you can recycle it from home. 

Widely recycled

This label is applied to packaging that is collected by 75% or more of local authorities across the UK, for example plastic bottles.

Widely recycled - rinse

Rinsing packaging, for example food trays, ensures that any food residue doesn’t contaminate other materials, particularly if they are collected together with paper.

It also helps to stop attracting vermin into the recycling sorting centres where people work.

Not currently recycled

This symbol shows that less than 20% of local councils currently collect this packaging for recycling

The Green Dot

The Green Dot doesn’t mean that the packaging is recyclable, will be recycled or has been recycled. It’s a symbol used on packaging in some European countries and means the producer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging in Europe.

Mobius Loop

This means an item can technically be recycled but not that it has been recycled or that it will be accepted for recycling. Sometimes this symbol is used with a percentage figure in the middle to explain that the packaging contains x% of recycled material.

Plastic resin codes

This tells you what kind of plastic an item is made of. 

Glass recycling

This symbol simply asks you to recycle the glass container.

Recyclable aluminium

This symbol indicates that an item is made from recyclable aluminium.

Recyclable steel

This symbol means that the product is made of steel. All councils collect steel for recycling!


This symbol from Keep Britain Tidy asks you not to litter.

Waste electricals

This symbol explains that you should not place the electrical item in the general waste. Electrical items can be recycled through a number of channels.


Products certified to be industrially compostable might have this ‘seedling’ logo. Never put compostable plastics into your recycling or food waste recycling bin.

Home composting

This symbol means that you can compost that item at home.

Paper, card and wood

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo means that in item has been made using wood from well managed forests.

A-Z of recycling

You can use our A-Z search to find out if something can be recycled and how to recycle it properly.