Recycled… or recyclable?

November 16, 2010

It’s good to know your symbols

One of the symbols below means ‘recyclable’.  The other means ‘recycled’ (IE containing recycled material).

Q: Do you know which is which?

A: The one on the left means ‘recyclable’: the material can be recycled.  The one on the right, with the circle, means ‘contains recycled material’.  (There are colour variations and the recycled logo sometimes indicates the percentage recycled content.)

The difference between the two might be subtle, but it REALLY MATTERS because:

1. if you specifically want to buy products that contain recycled materials, the logo on the left is meaningless; the logo on the right is the one to look for

2. the ‘recyclable’ logo on a product doesn’t automatically mean that it ends up getting recycled; that depends on your local program.  For example, Styrofoam© (polystyrene) is recyclable but is not accepted by most recycling programs.

The bottom line: it’s always best to REDUCE, but when that’s not possible, look for products that contain a high percentage of recycled material and are themselves recyclable.

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