Innovate Blog
Recycling symbols – the great unknown

Tuesday August 11, 2015

A rather unsettling moment in life and one we have all experienced, probably more frequently than we care to admit, is when we discover that what we thought we knew we actually didn’t know at all.  We encounter an ‘unknown unknown’, or in other words, something we didn’t know we didn’t know.

Here is an unknown unknown which many are yet to discover.  When we consider recycling, most of us think we have a clear idea as to what a recycling symbol is.  We think we understand the recognisable imagery stamped somewhere on the products we buy telling us that the item can be recycled.  Below is one such recycling symbol…

r symbol 1

…Or is it?  If you believe this symbol indicates that a product can be recycled, you are most certainly not alone in thinking so, but this image does not directly refer to recycling.  The symbol above is known as The Green Dot and does not necessarily mean the product in question is recyclable, will be recycled or contains recycled content.   What is actually means is that the producer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of general packaging.

Similarly, you might believe this symbol means that a product can definitely be recycled…

r symbol 2

Though you are getting closer to the truth, this symbol is called the Mobius Loop and indicates that a product is capable of being recycled, but will not necessarily be accepted in all recycling collection schemes.  This symbol is very much context specific.

If you are a conscientious consumer and want to know that what you are buying can absolutely, definitely, and in its entirety can be widely recycled, look out for this symbol…

r symbol 3

If you find that you are one of what I suspect is the many in finding this article a complete revelation, take comfort from knowing that your unknown unknown is now most certainly, known!