It can be confusing knowing what is recyclable and what’s not. Then, if it is recyclable, you’ve got to decide which bin is best to put it in.

You’re not the only one who’s confused.

In Liverpool, taxpayers had to pay nearly £1 million due to waste being placed in the wrong recycling bin.

And over 55% of Britons say they are confused about what can and can’t be recycled. With 29% of them admitting recycling was too much effort.

But it’s not due to a lack of concern. Two in three Britons are worried about packaging and the types of materials used in the packaging of their favourite products.

While it can be confusing to recycle, businesses can cut their waste management costs by recycling.


Range of recycling symbols

There isn’t a particularly wide range of recycling symbols but it is still hard to remember what each means.

You could print them out and place them in your workplace for staff to sort their waste, however, even if something is labelled as recyclable, it does not mean it can be recycled in your area.

It is best to check with your waste management provider.


Widely recycled

The recycle or widely recycled symbol is a white box with a smaller green box inside. Inside the green box is an arrow with what looks like a heart at the end. It says ‘widely recycled’ on it.

This symbol applies to packaging that is collected by 75% of local authorities.


Widely recycled- rinse

This symbol is the same as the widely recycled symbol except it has the words ‘RINSE’ at the top.

This will be on packaging that needs to be rinsed before recycling, such as food packaging. Food can contaminate the item and it won’t be able to be recycled.


Not currently recycled

Similar to the widely recycled symbols except the inner box is black and there is a line through the arrow symbol. This symbol means less than 50% of local authorities can recycle this packaging.


The green dot

This symbol is a circle made up of two intertwined arrows, one dark green, the other light green. This symbol means the producer has made a financial contribution to the recovery and recycling of packaging in Europe.

Almost half of those from a Which? Survey though the green dot meant it was recyclable.


Mobius loop

This symbol is three arrows in a triangle. The arrows look they have been folded over.

This recycling symbol means an item can be recycled.

Sometimes there will be a percentage in the middle to say what percent of the packaging is recyclable.


Plastic resin codes

This symbol is three black arrows creating a triangle. The symbol has a number in the middle and some letters underneath it. This will tell you what kind of plastic the item is made of. Number one, PET is recyclable, however, number 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are not always recyclable and some are never recyclable. You should check with your waste management provider.


Glass recycling

The glass recycling symbol is of a man throwing a bottle into a bin with three black arrows creating a circle around it.


Recyclable aluminium

This sign is made up of two arrows creating a circle with the letters ‘alu’ inside it, meaning it is aluminium and can be recycled.


Recyclable steel

A magnet attracting a circular shape means it is made of steel and can be recycled.


Waste electricals

This symbol is of a wheelie bin with a cross through it. This states you shouldn’t place electrical items in general waste. Electrical items can be collected by most waste providers.



This symbol is of a seedling that says ‘compostable’ below it. This means the item is compostable plastic and should not be placed in your food or recycling bins.


Are recycling symbols mandatory

There is EU legislation for marking, labelling, and the packaging of products in the EU, however, the individual country is responsible for deciding whether to make it mandatory or not.

In France, Germany, Portugal, and Spain it is mandatory to display recycling symbols on packaging. Throughout the rest of Europe, including the UK, it is voluntary.

In November 2021, a new law, the Environment Act 2021 was introduced. This law gives government the right to introduce mandatory labelling for packaging, however, to date they haven’t introduced this.


How to reduce your waste

Sending waste to landfill is subject to extra fees, making recycling cheaper to collect. Recycling your waste can save 10 to 15% of your waste management costs every year.

Whoever you get your general waste collected by, they will also be able to provide you with recycling bins. Recycling your waste not only saves you money and reduces your carbon footprint to make you more attractive to customers, but it also supports the local economy. For example, at Central Waste, we recycle all our food waste locally in Liverpool to make gas.


How to recycle more in your business

  • Get recycling bins
  • Try to repair or reuse items instead of throwing them away
  • Donate items to local communities
  • Make all your staff aware that it is everyone’s responsibility to recycle
  • Put up signs on your bins to let staff know what waste goes into which bin
  • Reduce food waste by giving customers doggy bags or composting it.


Types of recycling bins

At Central Waste, we recycle cardboard, plastics, food waste, glass, and dry mixed recycling. We also collect large plastic items including wheelie bins, beer crates, bulk bags, and plastic pallets.

There is a range of sizes of bins for your recycling, depending on the type of waste.

  • Food waste is collected in a 240-litre bin. We place a clear bin liner in your bin after every collection to keep your bin clean and avoid bad odours which could lead to pests.
  • Cardboard only bins are available in 1100 litre bins, 660 litre, and 360 litre bins.
  • Dry mixed recycling is available in 1100 litre bins, 660 litre, and 360 litre bins.
  • Glass bins are available in 240 litre bins.

You can arrange to have more than one recycling bin to tailor your collection to your business needs.

At Central Waste we have over 35 years of experience in the waste management industry. We are able to tailor a service to your business and give you advice to help you meet your legal responsibilities and to help you reduce costs.


To find out about our recycling services, contact us today.