The lowdown on recycling labels

Have you ever looked at the triangle symbol with a number (1-7) on plastic containers or bottles and wondered what it all means? If so, you're not alone. Use this blog to better understand recycling labels and to become a better Brisbane recycler.

Plastics Identification Code

The Plastics Identification Code identifies the type of plastic resin a product is made from. The code uses a symbol similar to the classic recycling symbol known as the 'Mobius loop'. The number inside the symbol identifies the plastic type (e.g number 1 indicates the item is made from Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)). The plastic types are:

  1. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  2. High density polyethylene (HDPE)
  3. Unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (UPVC)
  4. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
  5. Polypropylene (PP)
  6. Polystyrene (PS), expanded polystyrene (EPS)
  7. Other - resins and multi-materials.

Let's be honest though, who has time to remember the different types of plastic, their codes and whether they can be recycled?

To make things even more confusing, the code is not always included on packaging that can be recycled.

Australasian Recycling Label

Planet Ark has stepped in to simplify things by introducing the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) with three easy types of label classifications. It's been around for a few years now and you've probably seen the label on your groceries.

The ARL tells consumers how to correctly dispose of each component of the packaging. For example, biscuits are often packaged in a cardboard box with a soft, plastic, sealed bag inside. The ARL will tell you to put the box in the recycling bin and to 'store dropoff' the soft plastic packaging to your local supermarket or place with a soft plastic recycling service like REDcycle.

Watch Planet Ark's 'Check It! Before You Chuck It' video on YouTube to better understand ARLs.

The ARL is currently on more than 200 products across supermarket shelves. Look out for it next time you need help to put the right thing in the right bin.

When in doubt about recycling...

If you can't find an ARL on an item, think about what the item is made from. If it's made from paper, cardboard, firm plastic, aluminium, steel or glass, you can confidently put it in your recycling bin.

Brisbane's Best Recycling Guide for Households is a pocket guide with detailed information about what you can recycle. Download the guide from our recycling guide for households page to find:

  • the easiest ways to collect household recyclables
  • what can and can't go in your recycling bin
  • answers to frequently asked questions
  • information on sorting recyclables
  • answers to recycling myths and more.

More information

Date posted:
Last updated: 2 February 2022
Topics: green

Brisbane City Council acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land and their unique relationship with their ancestral country. We pay respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of Brisbane, and recognise their strength and wisdom.