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Are You Recycling Properly? 8 Recycling Symbols Decoded

Sure, you’ve seen the small recycling symbols that seem to be stamped on everything from plastics to glass, metal, and paper —but do you really know what they mean?

Before you head to the recycling center or take your latest aluminum can collection to the curb, check out these common recycling symbols to learn how these items are intended to be recycled.

The Möbius Loopsymbol_mobiusloop
Designed by then-23-year-old college student Gary Anderson in 1970, this is the technical name for the universally recognized logo that means an item is capable of being recycled. It is based on the premise of “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

Waste Electricalssymbol_waste
From home appliances to mobile phones, items that bear this mark can be recycled. Check with your local recycling center about the availability of this program. Many centers will even come to your house or curb to pick up the items for you!

Created by the Biodegradable Products Institute, this logo helps consumers know which items are compostable. Composting is a great way to recycle in your own home—and provides useful compost for your garden!

Products or materials bearing this symbol are radioactive, biohazardous, flammable, and/or toxic. To protect the environment, items bearing these symbols should never be recycled. Dispose of properly and with care.

This familiar mark reminds us to dispose of glass bottles and jars in a bottle bank or a glass household recycling collection. Various facilities, such as arenas or stadiums, will often have designated bins for proper recycling of glass items.


This mark was developed by the Forest Stewardship Council, and designates and recognizes products that contain wood from responsibly sustained and well-managed forests. In these forests, as trees are felled, saplings are planted, helping to sustain the delicate balance of the forest ecosystem.

The Tidy Mansymbol_tidyman
While not directly related to recycling, this logo reminds us to dispose of the item in a responsible and thoughtful manner in designated containers.

Recycleable plastics are plastictypes_1designated by the Möbius Loop, with a number in the center. This number designates the type of plastic the container is made from, which indicates how the plastic should be recycled.

Putting it into Practice
The next time you see one of these symbols, we hope you will have a better understanding of the thought behind each of them, as well as what they mean. Responsible disposal and recycling is crucial for the health of our environment—and for future generations.

For more recycling tips and tricks, visit