About recycling symbols

Check the item, not the symbol

Recycling symbols can be confusing, as they don’t always indicate whether the item can go in your kerbside recycling bin. For that reason, the easiest way to find out how to dispose of paper and plastic packaging is to check with your council.

The symbols explained

The triangle recycling symbol

The triangle recycling symbol is found on most paper and plastic packaging found in supermarkets. It shows that a product is either recyclable or has been made from recycled materials.

While most products with this symbol can be recycled, they can’t always go in your recycling bin at home – so don’t rely on this symbol to tell you where it should go. Instead, make sure you are disposing of an item correctly by checking with your council.

Plastics identification code

You might have noticed a triangle symbol and number on the plastic packaging you buy.

While this looks like the common recycling symbol, it doesn’t mean the product is recyclable. This symbol is the plastics identification code and is used by those who process the products to identify what type of plastic it is and separate it from other types for recycling.

If you’re unsure of how to dispose of a plastic bottle or container, check with your council to see if the product can go in your recycling bin or if it needs to be dropped off somewhere else.

Australasian Recycling Label

To help take the confusion out of recycling, Planet Ark has developed the Australasian Recycling Label.

This label goes a step further than the traditional recycling symbol and identifies how to dispose of each package component. For example, items made up of separable components, like a soft plastic wrapper and a hard plastic container, only the hard plastic container belongs in your recycling bin.

It also considers other factors, such as weight, shape, size, inks and glues.

More and more product makers are using this label to help their customers put the right things into their recycling bin. Learn more about how the label works.