Does your college or administrative building have an issue with mixed recycling? Are you struggling with keeping recycling streams uncontaminated? Step up your recycling game with a quick brief on recycle symbols used for plastics and glass. Here at Recycle Away, we also sell trash and recycling bins that are ready to display with the proper symbols for recycling. See what we have in store for your new recycling station.

About the Origin of Recycle Symbols

In 1970, the public use symbol for recycling was invented via the Container Corporation of America. The symbol of a triangle with three arrows representing recycling, reusing, and reducing is still used on all recyclable items today. However, you will also find a lot more recycle symbols on labels and packages, such as the ones listed below.

FSC Recycled Label

FSC Recycled Label

For all products that are manufactured using 100 percent recycled material, the emblem of the FSC Recycled Label is attached. This label is guarded by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for public use.

Keep in mind, these products are already made from recycled materials, and may not be recyclable. Here is where you need to look for paper, glass, metal, or plastic recycling codes.

In 1988, recycling by numbers for plastic products was set by the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI). Let's see some of the most common codes for recycling plastic products.

PET 01

Plastic bottles for water, soda, vegetable oil, and salad dressing may be labeled as PET 01 or PETE. The use of polyethylene terephthalate in these plastics allows for common recycling when bottles are clean.

PE-HD 02

The plastic found in gallon milk jugs, grocery bags, and butter containers is PE-HD 02 or high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Also, a relatively common plastic, you can recycle these products at many locations.

PP 05

Polypropylene, which is labeled as PP 05, is the plastic used for making drinking straws, medicine bottles, and syrup containers. Only when clean can PP 05 plastic be recycled, but recycling facilities are available.

PS 06

The last plastic on the accepted-for-recycling list is PS 06 for polystyrene. Your plastic egg cartons, Chinese takeout containers, and picnic plates all contain this type of plastic. Few of the products on the PS 06 label can be recycled, and these products should be kept separately, i.e., individually bagged.

Code 7

Plastic that is a Code 7 is not recyclable and will be sent to an incinerator. Dispose this plastic in a regular garbage receptacle.


There are three main categories of recyclable glass. You may find any of these symbols on recyclable glass bottles and jars, as noted by Grainger:

  • Mixed Glass GL 70
  • Clear Glass GL 71
  • Green Glass GL 72

Typically, all clear and green glass is recyclable, but some amber glass is also recycled. However, all glass must be unbroken or chipped and without a plastic or metal cap to be ready for recycling.

Tidyman Symbol

Another common recycling symbol is the Tidyman symbol. Here you have a black stick figure tossing a piece of garbage in a litter bin, which is indicative of recycling or disposing of the item properly. This image is on most recyclables, if not all items.

The Premier Triple in Brushed Aluminum recycling bin by Recycle Away features the Tidyman symbol. This three-stream recycling center also has the classic recycling triangle and a compost emblem.

Find More Recycle Symbols at Recycle Away

Ready to shop for trash and recycling bins with the recycle symbols already printed on them? Check out our wide selection ranging from individual recycling bins like The Royal Single or in Grey Elm to the Stadium 35 Gallon Recycling and Waste Combo with Flat Tops in Stainless Steel.