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Recycling Symbols Decoded

Recycling Symbols Decoded

As friends of the bees and caretakers of the planet, we know that you do your best to recycle and reuse, just like we do. In the development of Everbee, planet-friendly practices are at the heart of our operations -– from research and technology to sourcing and shipping. 

As communities continue to improve their recycling programs, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the various recycling symbols. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires recycled content to be clearly identified on any product and packaging. For example, just because your water bottle is recycled, doesn't mean the cap is too. 

Let’s break down a few everyday emblems that are universal to most areas in the US.

 Recyclable Symbol

Recyclable Symbol

The three chasing arrows, known as the recyclable symbol, indicates the item is capable of being recycled, or will be accepted in all recycling collection systems. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that the product contains reclaimed materials. 

 Recycled Symbol

Recycled Symbol

When the arrows are enclosed in a circle, the item is made with recycled materials, but take care to note what is repurposed—the packaging, lid or cap, or product itself.

  • White arrows against a black background mean the product is 100% recycled.
  • Black arrows against a white background indicate the item contains a combination of new and reused materials. Sometimes the exact percentage is displayed in the loop's center.

 Compostable

Compostable 

The seedling icon means the item can be composted. More items may be compostable than you might think. In fact, it is preferable to compost biodegradable plastic, because it may not degrade properly in landfills that are deprived of oxygen.

This symbol is often used to mark products certified as compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI). Check BPI’s list of certified compostable products as some compostable products may not have the symbol.

Glass Recycles

Glass Recycles

This symbol encourages you to recycle glass containers in a bottle bank (remember to separate different coloured glass). Alternatively, use your glass household recycling collection service if your local council has one.

Plastic Resin Codes

These codes identify the type of plastic used. The number in the middle (ranging from one to seven) identifies the specific category and proper disposal method based on the Resin Identification Code scale.

Not all communities will accept each number, so check with your center before discarding. The higher the number, the less common the plastic, and more difficult to reuse.

 PET

Plastic Recycling Symbol #1: PET or PETE

PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) is the most common plastic for single-use bottled beverages because it's inexpensive, lightweight and easy to recycle. It poses a low risk of leaching breakdown products.

PET is found in soft drinks, water, beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers.

 HDPE

Plastic Recycling Symbol #2: HDPE

HDPE (high density polyethylene) is a versatile plastic with many uses, especially when it comes to packaging. With a low risk of leaching, HDPE is found in milk jugs; juice bottles; bleach, detergent and other household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box liners.

 PVC

Plastic Recycling Symbol #3: PVC or V

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and V (vinyl) is tough and weathers well, so it's commonly used for things like piping, windows, siding and wire jacketing. PVC is also cheap, so it's found in plenty of products and packaging. Because chlorine is part of PVC, it can result in the release of dangerous dioxins during manufacturing. Never burn PVC because it releases toxins.

 LDPE

Plastic Recycling Symbol #4: LDPE

LDPE (low density polyethylene) is a flexible plastic with many applications. Historically, it hasn't been accepted through most American recycling programs, but more communities are starting to accept it. LDPE is found in squeezable bottles; bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags; tote bags and furniture.

 PP

Plastic Recycling Symbols #5: PP

With a high melting point, PP (polypropylene) is often chosen for containers that will hold hot liquid. Found in some yogurt containers, syrup and medicine bottles, caps, and straws, it's gradually becoming more accepted by recyclers.

PS 

Plastic Recycling Symbol #6: PS

PS (polystyrene) can be made into rigid or foam products such as disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, and compact disc cases. Most notably, it’s used in the trademark Styrofoam. PS contains possible carcinogens and that can leach into foods. Notoriously difficult to recycle, most places still don't accept it in foam because it's mostly air. 

OTHER Plastic Resin 

Plastic Recycling Symbol #7: Miscellaneous

A wide variety of plastic resins that don't fit into the previous categories are lumped into this one. Polycarbonate is a #7 plastic that has worried consumers after studies have shown it contains BPA, a known hormone disruptor. PLA (polylactic acid) — carbon neutral and made from plants — also falls into this category.

Items can include 3 and 5-gallon water bottles, bullet-proof materials, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and computer cases, signs and displays, certain food containers, and nylon.

Best Practices for Recycling 

  • Recycle bottles, cans, paper and cardboard.
  • Keep food and liquid out of your recycling.
  • Don’t include loose plastic bags and no bagged recyclables.
  • When in doubt… leave it out! Including items that are not recyclable makes the sorting process more expensive and lowers the quality of the end product. 

Local Guidelines

When in doubt about whether to recycle, reuse or compost a particular item, be sure to contact your local sanitation department or visit Earth911.com for more information on what products can be recycled, and how to recycle them, in your area.

Support Eco-conscious Brands

Here at Perpetual Pollen, we empower people to save their local bees, and we proudly align with like-minded organizations who take action towards a better world.

From our recycled packaging and carbon neutral business model to our pure ingredients and partnerships with nature-friendly charities like One Tree Planted — we believe that sustainable business is the only way forward. 

Together, our small choices make a big impact.