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Packaging de-coded: the dos and don’ts of recycling

Packaging de-coded: the dos and don’ts of recycling

Packaging de-coded

If you’ve even been baffled by what the symbols on the back of your products mean, you’re not alone. But there’s a good reason to work out how to dispose of your product’s packaging - between the beauty industry producing 120 billion units of packaging every year and 56% of Brits admitting they don’t recycle bathroom waste such as shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles simply because it’s inconvenient.[1] That’s a lot of waste.

And putting even one non-recyclable item in your recycling bin can disrupt the entire recycling process for that batch, which means it’ll all end up in landfill, despite your best intentions.

Here’s what the symbols on your product actually mean

 

The Mobius Loop: Three arrows forming a triangle means that you can recycle your packaging. Sometimes you’ll see a percentage in the middle of the symbol – that tells you how much of the item has been made from recycled materials.

 Mobius Loop

 

Plastic Resin Code: This means your item is recyclable. The number identifies the type of plastic used. Bear in mind that not all plastics can be recycled, so look out for their codes.

 

 

The Green Dot: This is a confusing one. Two interlocking green arrows means that the manufacturer has donated money towards recycling services in Europe. It doesn’t mean the item is recyclable – and can be featured on packaging which can’t be recycled.

 Green Dot

 

Widely Recycled: This means the item is recycled by 75% or more of local authorities across the UK. You’re able to put this in your recycling bin.

 Widely Recycled

 

Check Locally: This symbol appears on packaging that is collected by 20%–75% of local authorities in the UK. Check before you recycle.

 Check Locally

 

Not Yet Recyclable: This means the item is recycled by less than 20% of local authorities in the UK. It can’t be recycled.

 Not Yet Recycled

 

Compostable: This symbol means the item can be composted. But don’t put this in your recycling bin as it contaminates the recycling process. It can go in your black bin or your compost bin, if you have one.

Compostable

 

Glass: This means the item is made of recyclable glass. Dispose of it in a glass bottle bank, or in your household glass recycling if your local authority allows it.

 Glass

 

Aluminium: This means that the product is made from recyclable aluminium and can be recycled.

 Aluminium

 

[1] British Beauty Council, ‘Beauty recycling: The British Beauty Council puts more than 2000 conscious bins on the map’, 8 November 2022
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