Recycling Decoded: What These Recycling Symbols Mean

Published 24th Apr 2023
We are all determined to do our bit when it comes to recycling but sometimes the guidance as to what salon products can and cannot be recycled (and how) can leave you confused and quite tempted to take the easy option and ignore the symbols completely. But, it doesn't have to be a headache. As brands and suppliers continue to increase their efforts to make their products more sustainable it's only right that we should all play our part, no matter how small. So here's a full guide on recycling symbols, including what is sustainable and what is a load of old rubbish...

What do these recycling symbols mean?

Mobius Loop

This means the item is capable of being recycled, but not that it has been recycled, or will be accepted in all recycling collection systems. Sometimes this is accompanied by a percentage figure that indicates it’s made from X% recycled material.

Plastic Resin Codes

This identifies the type of plastic used. The number in the middle (which ranges from one to seven) acts as a resin identification code alongside the plastic’s acronym (e.g. PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate).

glass recycling symbol


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.

Forest Stewardship Council

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo shows that wood and other forest-based items are sourced from well- managed forests and/or recycled and controlled sources and comply with the rules of the FSC.

Not Yet Recyclable

The label is applied to products that are recycled by less than 20% of local authorities in the UK.

check locally recycling symbol

Check Locally

This symbol appears on packaging that is collected by 20%–75% of local authorities in the UK.

recycling steel symbol

Recyclable Steel

This means the item is made of steel and can be recycled by all local authorities.

aluminium recycling symbol


The aluminium icon means the object is made from recyclable aluminium.


The seedling icon means the item can be composted. However, don’t mix this with recyclable items as it contaminates the recycling process.

The Green Dot

This symbol does not necessarily mean the item is recyclable. However, it means the producer has made a financial contribution to the recycling of packaging in Europe.

waste electrical symbol

Waste Electricals

Some electrical items cannot be disposed of in normal waste. Check with your local authority for kerbside collection, or recycle them at a recycling centre or at larger retailers.

Widely Recycled symbol

Widely Recycled

This icon means the item is collected by 75% or more of local authorities across the UK. Variations of the symbol include instructions such as rinsing the item first, or keeping the lid of the product on. Want to become more savvy sustainable? Here are some tips for becoming a more sustainable hair business. Today's Sustainability Week content is sponsored by Takara Belmont.

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