The original recycling symbol was first invented by Gary Anderson in 1970.
Gary Anderson, 23 years old at the time, was a senior at the University of Southern California. He created the recycling logo as a submission to the International Design Conference as part of a nationwide contest for high school and college students sponsored by the Container Corporation of America. The contest was held as a solution to the continuous growth of consumer awareness and environmentalism and a response to the first Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970.
Gary Anderson’s recycling symbol (also called the Mobius loop) has been re-designed and used in several countries around the world ever since.
What People Don’t Know about Recycling Symbol
Most people think that the little triangle symbol at the bottom of their plastic bottles means that the material is recyclable or will be recycled later, but what they don’t know is just because it has a recycling triangle on the bottom, doesn’t always mean it can be or it would be recycled.
For a material to be successfully recycled, there is an amount of energy, money, time, technology, and human resources needed to perform the task.
The number (with recycling symbol around it) indicates the grade of plastic and can also tell you about the safety and uses of that item.
Segregate your waste, prefer for (safe) reusable materials, and check your local recycling agents to distribute the kind of waste that they could process/accept.
Your waste is your responsibility. There’s no symbol that would help you to escape that.
Famous Recycling Symbol Around the World
Now that we have told you the key truth, let us take you into a journey of world recycling symbols.
Different countries naturally have different technologies and different policies in processing their waste (read more about Interesting Waste Management Culture in Different Countries).
It is important to understand how waste would be recycled in a place you visit. It is also crucial to remind you (again) that your waste is your responsibility – wherever you went – and you need to check several times where and how your waste will be recycled so as not to pollute the environment.
Here are the several famous recycling symbol around the world:
Germany’s Green Dot
The Green Dot (German: Der Grüne Punkt) is the symbol of a European network of industry-funded systems for recycling the consumer goods’ packaging materials.
In 1992, the European Union introduced the Packaging Waste Directive (PWD) to reduce the amount of packaging ending up in the landfill. The PWD stated that producers should contribute in paying for the recycling of the packaging waste that they place onto the market.
Each Member State implemented their own system to meet the requirements, including Germany. An organisation called Duales System Deutschland AG (DSD) was established by Germans and created the Green Dot trademark symbol (Der Grune Punkt), which was designed to act like a receipt or financing mark, while raising consumer awareness.
Some people wrongly assume Green Dot as a recycling symbol to indicate that the particular piece of packaging can be recycled, some also think that this symbol signifies that the producers have financially contributed towards the recycling of their share of packaging waste. The policies only affect those that export packaged goods to countries that have implemented the Green Dot packaging waste system, or producers that ar located within those countries.
The Green Dot logo isn’t meant to be used for environmental causes or to claim that a material is safe without the provision of DSD. If you wish to know more about Green Dot logo and how to apply for the use of the symbol, please visit the official PRO Europe page.
UK’s Widely Recycled Logo
UK’s widely recycled symbol is probably the most informative recycling symbol nowadays, but the system is currently provided in the UK area or locations under UK authorities. The Widely Recycled symbol usually includes how to prepare the material for recycle (rinse first, keep the lid on, flatten before drop, leave the cap on, or plainly can’t be recycled yet) and people could also check the meaning of the symbol or how to recycle specific thing by visiting the recyclenow.com.
For example, the standard widely recycled logo means that the packaging you’re looking at is recycled by 75% or more of the UK’s local authorities.
Plastic Resin Codes
One of the most misunderstood symbols in the world, the one that we see often in Indonesia’s markets: the plastic resin codes.
The plastic resin code was developed in 1988 by the Society of the Plastics Industry (now the Plastics Industry Association) in the United States, but since 2008 it has been administered by ASTM International. The purpose of the original code was to provide a consistent national system to facilitate recycling of post-consumer plastics.
- #1 PET signifies that the product is made out of polyethylene terephthalate such as beverage bottles, cups, other packaging, etc
- #2 HDPE signifies high-density polyethylene such as bottles, cups, milk jugs, etc.
- #3 PVC signifies polyvinyl chloride, often used as pipes, siding, flooring, etc.
- #4 LDPE signifies low-density polyethylene that you found in plastic bags, six-pack rings, tubing, etc.
- #5 PP signifies polypropylene that also used for cosmetic packaging, auto parts, industrial fibres, food containers, etc.
- #6 PS signifies polystyrene such as plastic utensils, Styrofoam, cafeteria trays, etc.
- #7 OTHER signifies other plastics or a combination of plastic with other materials, such as acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate and polylactic acid.
To reduce the misconception of the plastic resin codes, in 2013, ASTM International issued to change the graphic marking symbol from the “chasing arrows” of the Recycling Symbol to a solid triangle instead.
Plastic resin codes only help you and the recycling agents to know the type of plastic we are dealing with, it doesn’t state whether the plastic will be recycled or can be recycled. Read more information about how to choose a better material for recycling and how to prepare material for recycling in Indonesia and what you need to know about residual waste.
Recycling with Waste4Change
For Jakarta, Bekasi, and Tangerang area, Waste4Change provides waste transportation services directly to the house: Personal Waste Management, which ensures that client waste is picked up and transported in a segregated state, as well as being optimally recycled to minimize waste that ends up in the landfill.
You may also check Waste4Change’s Send Your Waste program for you to send your inorganic waste to us and our recycling partners.
We support the responsible implementation of 3R (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle) principle that encourages everyone to reduce their waste before taking the step of recycling.