Recycling Symbols

Today there exists many different recycling symbols that are used across the globe. Although attempts to create an almost universal format for these symbols have been successful to some degree, there are still a wide variety of logos that are featured on different types of packaging. This article helps to explain the many different symbols found on such packaging.

General Recycling Symbols

There are numerous general recycling symbols used across the globe. The below table lists the majority of these symbols and what they each signify.

Name Description Symbol
Universal Recycling Symbol This universally recognised symbol is used to identify a recyclable product where facilities exist. This logo may be governed by different laws in different countries.  The universal recycling symbol
Universal Recycling Symbol (With %) The universal recycling symbol can also be found with a percentage symbol inside. This symbol variation signifies what % of the packaging has been made from recycled material.  The universal recycling logo with percentage
Green Dot This symbol is widely used by companies across Europe to show they have a process in place that helps to recycle packaging. The symbol doesn’t signify that the packaging is actually recyclable.  The green dot symbol.
Glass Recycling This glass recycling symbol can be found on bottles, jars and other recyclable glass products. It is used as a reminder that you can recycle glass bottles/jars at bottle banks or other recycling facilities. The glass recycling symbol.
CEN Aluminium This logo is used to identify a product that has been made from recycled aluminium in accordance with the European CEN standard CR 14311. It is widely found on soft drinks cans produced and/or distributed across Europe.  The CEN aluminium symbol.
CEN Steel This logo is similar to the CEN Aluminium logo and identifies a product that has been made from recycled steel in accordance with the CEN standard CR 14311. The CEN steel symbol.
WEEE Directive This symbol is widely used across Europe to identify products that can be recycled under the “waste electrical and electronic equipment directive” that became law in 2003.  The WEEE directive symbol.

Please Note: Coloured logos are often shown in black and white on certain types of packaging such as cardboard.

Other Packaging Symbols

You may find additional packaging symbols, some of which may be combined to give you an overview as to the recyclable options for the packaging. This will vary from country to country and so we can’t list these options here.

There are seven resin identification codes that can also be found on recyclable plastic packaging. These are codes that each refer to what type of plastic the packaging uses. The codes can then be referenced against the codes available for recycling by your local authority/council.