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Waste Recycling Symbols

The universal waste recycling symbols are three folded arrows that form a triangle, with the head of one arrow pointing to the tail of the next. It was designed in 1970 by Gary Anderson, a student of University of Southern California, as part of a contest tied to the first Earth Day.

The triangle in the waste recycling symbols represents the “Reduce – Reuse – Recycle” Waste Hierarchy. The three arrows of the symbol represent the three main stages in recycling: collecting and sorting recyclable materials, processing and manufacturing into new products, the sale and purchase of products made from recycled materials.


Waste recycling symbols category

Waste recycling symbols can be further divided into two categories. One is recyclable symbol which is reserved for products which can be recycled. There are two symbols under this category, either white with black outline or solid black, and they are often used interchangeably. The other is recycled symbol reserved for products containing recycled materials, either black on white or white on black. The white-on-black version is often used for 100% recycled materials, whilst the black-on-white version is usually for products containing both recycled and non-recycled materials. When a percentage is indicated within the symbol, it means that the particular percentage of the product has been made from recycled materials. Nowadays, more specific symbols have been created for some commonly seen recyclable materials, such as paper, plastic, glass, metal, battery, biomatter/organic material etc.

These recycling symbols can help consumers identify which products are recyclable, so that they can be sent for recycling rather than throwing into garbage. It also makes it clear which products contain recycled materials, and then consumers can preferably purchase these eco-friendly products to complete the recycling loop which in return encourage more manufacturers to use recyclable materials for making new products.

To gain more knowledge about recycling, you can consult a Sinobaler expert at or visit us at

Quick links:

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