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Are you being misled by packaging?

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Author: Louise Williams, Posted: Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 09:00

I recently discovered that there was an enormous issue with the green entwined arrows or three arrow outline recycling symbols (the Green Dot and the Mobius Loop if you would like to look them up) that you see on packaging on the shelves of most of our shops in the UK.

The two arrows in different shades of green, green and white or black and white, and the three arrows in a circle are synonymous with recycling. I’ve always believed it to mean that the item of packaging can be recycled, however a recent video I saw exposed the truth and really shocked me.

Companies put money behind recycling initiatives

Very often the items marked with these symbols can’t be recycled in the UK at all. The green arrows actually symbolise that the company that produces the product has put money behind recycling initiatives in other European countries, and in the case of the outline arrows, that the packaging is capable of being recycled, but maybe not in your local recycling plant, or even in our country. In fact, the Green Dot symbol is basically meaningless in the UK and yet you see it all the time.

The main problem is that people see the symbol and automatically assume that you can put those items into the recycling boxes – I’ve done it myself on many occasions. Then they go off to the plants and cause havoc, as they actually can’t be recycled at all and someone has to remove them all.

Mislabelling is adding to the confusion

So why do we still have them? Many of the companies that use this symbol have vowed to take it off to prevent further confusion, but how long will it be until they are gone, and what about the companies that don’t remove them? This mislabelling is actually adding to the problem by jamming up the plants that are already overwhelmed with the scale of our waste.

So next time you see this symbol, don’t be fooled into thinking that the packaging is automatically suitable for the recycling bins, as the chances are that they aren’t. Equally, don’t assume that they can’t go in – it’s probably best to just ignore it and check on your local council’s website to see.

With so many different policies, it can seem overwhelming

As if knowing what can be recycled isn’t tough enough without misleading symbols like that to throw you off! There are so many different types of packaging available now and so many different councils with different policies that it can seem overwhelming to even try.

Luckily, a lot of the packaging we see on the supermarket shelves nowadays is clearly marked with a single line circle with an arrow at the end, and usually tells you in plain text as well. Hopefully the rest of the food producers that sell their products in this country will take note and follow suit to make it easier for us all to do our bit.


For more from Louise, visit her blog here: Pink Pear Bear

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