Recycling symbols explained

Look out for the following symbols, which appear on all sorts of packaging. They tell you what the packaging is made of and whether or not you can recycle it. The symbol will also tell you whether you can recycle it at home or if you should take it to your local recycling centre.

Remember, not all packaging will have a recycling label but this doesn't mean you can't recycle it. If you're not sure what you can recycle in your area, check our recycling locator.

Widely recycled

This label shows that more than 75% of local councils collect this type of packaging for recycling.

widely recycled symbol

Check local recycling

This symbol shows that 20-75% of local councils collect this type of material for recycling.

plastic- check local recycling

Not currently recycled

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

Not currently recycled symbol

Widely recycled at recycling points - check locally for kerbside

This symbol means more that 75% of councils don't collect the packaging for recycling, but you can take it to recycling points in your local area.

check locally for recycling

Plastic packaging

Some plastic packaging can now be recycled at supermarket 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, multipack wrapping and newspaper and magazine wraps.

What to do with plastic film

Recycle with carrier bags at larger stores

Metal paint cans

Empty metal paint cans are accepted for recycling at most local council recycling centres. Check your council's website for more information.

What to do with paint cans

empty paint container recycling symbol

Other recycling symbols

The following recycling symbols can be found on a variety of packaging and explain a range of information, such as whether or not an item can be recycled and how to dispose of it.

Mobius Loop

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

mobius loop


This means do not litter. This doesn't relate to recycling, but is a reminder to be a good citizen!

Keep Britain Tidy


The Green Dot

The Green Dot does not necessarily mean that the packaging is recyclable, will be recycled, or has been recycled. It's a symbol used on packaging in many European countries and signifies that the producer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging.

green dot



This shows the type of plastic resin used to make something by providing a 'Resin Identification Code'. It is represented with a 'chasing arrows' symbol surrounding a number between 1 and 7 that represents the resin used.

What to do with plastic

Recycling plastics symbol


This means throw away your glass bottles and jars in a bottle bank (remember to separate colours) or use your glass household recycling collection if you have one.

What to do with glass


Recyclable aluminium

What to do with aluminium

recycling aluminium

Recyclable steel

recyclable steel

Waste electricals

Waste electrical items, from household applicances to mobile phones, can be recycled if you see this symbol.

What to do with electricals



The 'seedling' is the registered trademark of European Bioplastics. Products certified to be industrially compostable might show this logo.



This is the National Association of Paper Merchants mark. Paper or cardboard which have this logo are made from at least 50%, 75% or 100% recycled paper and/or cardboard.

National Association of Paper Merchants



The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo identifies products which contain wood from well managed forests which are independently certified following FSC rules.

 Forest Stewardship Council