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Do You Understand the Recycling Symbols?

Pure Cult
Do You Understand the Recycling Symbols?

What exactly do all the different recycling symbols mean?  It’s hard enough choosing what you want to buy at the supermarket or when you are shopping in general without all the little numbers and images on the packaging making you wonder what they are! They’re so confusing!  Luckily, we’re here to help.

Let’s start with the easy stuff… Most people are familiar with the recycle logo; the image of the set of arrows that create a small, green (or black) triangle is universal.  It’s the “Mobius” symbol. This is globally understood as the symbol for “it’s recyclable” so if you see this in any country, on a waste bin or on the packaging – you know that it can be recycled or thrown in the bin without worrying about its impact on the environment.

That’s all well and good, but what about the others?  How do you know where to throw your food packaging?  Is it recyclable or not?  Will it biodegrade? We’re going to help you understand which recycling symbol is and we’ll even let you know about the other symbols that aren’t necessarily recyclable but relate to saving the planet. At least when you know what each one is, you know you’re one step closer to pure living, which means you don’t have to worry about harming the environment you live in or endangering the lives of those living in your home.

Let’s talk about Resin Identification Codes.  These are little codes that represent the amount of resin in packaging and there are quite a few so it’s not always easy to identify which is which.  Rather like the Mobius recycling symbol, they are each formed out of black arrows to form a triangle and each different one has a number in the middle, here’s what they mean by each number:

  • PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate such as cups, drinking bottles etc.)
  • HDPE (High-density polyethylene such as bottles and cups)
  • PVC (Polyvinyl chloride such as pipes, floors etc.)
  • LDPE (Low-density polyethylene such as plastic bags)
  • PP (Polypropylene such as food containers, auto parts and industrial fibres)
  • PS (Polystyrene including Styrofoam)
  • Other plastics (e.g. acrylic, polycarbonate. Polylactic acid, nylon)

Next, it’s the black coloured man throwing rubbish into the bin, he is also universally recognised.  Known as the “Tidy Man”, he reminds us not to throw litter on the floor or streets and to use the waste bins provided.

A relatively new symbol is the Eco mark which features a green outlined pot and was issued by the BIS, Bureau of Indian Standards.  It is a mark which depicts that certain consumer and household products are ecologically safe, conforming to standards required by the BIS.

This mark is seen on products in the following categories: food, medicine, chemicals, packing materials, electronics and papers.  It is there especially to encourage shoppers to purchase goods that are more environmentally friendly; these products will be made out of renewable resources, recyclable materials or biodegradable products.

There are other, lesser-known marks that are not necessarily related to recycling but are relatable to environmentally friendly items, for example:

The Indian Craft mark, which is a burgundy logo of a small woven piece of material.  This confirms that the item is a genuine, made in India handicraft, so by buying one of these items, you support the livelihood of the Indian people.

Fairtrade is an important international logo and it is more widely known in recent years. 


Featuring a Yin and Yang image, it gives buyers confidence that they are purchasing something ethical that supports the livelihoods of local community workers and farmers while keeping the environment safe. The goods that feature this logo are made in safe conditions and use environmentally friendly materials and machinery wherever possible.

The internationally recognised jumping bunny logo represents cruelty-free goods so allow consumers to immediately recognise that the product they are buying has not been tested on animals.  This is usually found on cosmetics, beauty products, household products and toiletries.  

The PGS logo (Participatory Guarantee System) depicts a tree with green leaves and shows buyers that their product is organic.  It is an international logo and used mainly by farmers and other producers.  Products with this logo attached are free from fertilisers, hormones, herbicides, insecticides and other harmful chemicals.

So, the next time you go shopping and you wonder what the little logo on the pack represents, you should be able to recognise it and feel that your conscience is clear!  By using a product with any of the above logos you are taking a stand against aggravating the planet that we are all lucky to live on.  You are taking steps towards pure living and you’re also part of a new movement, to own up, take action and change!

Pure Cult
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