Recycling Symbol

Recycling Symbol

The recycling symbol is an international sign used to report that a product has been made from recycled or recyclable material. It is also used to identify recycling points distributed throughout cities and towns.

This icon was designed by the architect Gary Anderson (Hawaii, 1945) for a contest on the occasion of the first celebration of Earth Day (April 22) in 1970. The contest was organized and organized by the company Container Corporation of America , dedicated to making boxes with recycled cardboard.

Part of the criteria established for the participants were the following: simplicity, intelligibility of the logo in any printing scale and use of black and white colors. A condition of competition was that the logo should be in the public domain.

Recycling symbol description and meaning

Initially inspired by mandalas with triangular shapes, Gary Anderson first designed a two-dimensional triangle demarcated by three arrows. However, he found it very flat.

It was then that he thought of the Moebius strip, also known as the Moebius strip, a tape whose ends meet in a curve, and characterized by three-dimensionality and dynamism.

The three arrows represent the three steps of recycling: ” recycle, reduce, reuse “. This translates into:

  • Recycle: sort materials;
  • Reduce: rework raw material with them and
  • Reuse: Buy and use products made from recycled or recyclable material.

Variants of the recycling symbol

Recycling Symbol logo

There are some variants of the recycling symbol, which have more specific meanings. Let’s see.

When the recycling symbol appears with a percentage in the center, it means that part of the material with which it was made is recycled in the indicated percentage.

If the symbol appears inside a circle, it means that part of the different materials have been recycled.

Another variant of the recycling symbol is the triangle with two-dimensional arrows, like the one below. Within this triangle, a number is usually included, which indicates the type of material for its classification. These numbers range from 1 to 7.

What is Recycling:

Recycling or recycling is known as the process that involves the transformation of waste or used materials into new goods or products for reuse .

As such, the recycling process begins with the separation of the different materials (glass, plastic, aluminum, paper, etc.), to be introduced into the recycling system and subsequently transformed into new raw materials or products with a new cycle. of life.

Depending on the case, the whole of a material or only a part can be recycled. Recycling involves, firstly, the sorting plants , where the waste is separated, and, secondly, the recycling plants , which is where the waste is transformed for its use.

It is noteworthy that not all materials are recyclable , since some, such as oils, paints or insecticides, which are considered harmful or toxic, cannot be reused.

For the separation of materials, a color system has been implemented in the garbage containers (which may vary in different countries), to facilitate collection. The basic colors are as follows:

  • Blue color, for paper and cardboard.
  • Yellow color, for plastic and metallic containers.
  • Green color, for glass.

The best-known recycling logo or symbol is the Möbius ring or circle, made up of three arrows arranged as a triangle, which bend clockwise and represent the three parts of the cycle: collection, recycling and reuse.

Importance of recycling

all Recycle Symbol logo
ALL Recycling Symbol

The importance of recycling for our current society lies in the fact that it allows us to make rational use of natural resources , especially non-renewable ones, which translates into their preservation, the protection of the environment and the reduction of pollution.

Recycling, moreover, is part of an ecological model of sustainability, which is based on the use of resources without causing damage or damaging changes in the environment, respecting the natural cycles of regeneration of materials.

On the other hand, recycling makes it possible to lower production costs for some industries, while for citizens it can be beneficial in the sense that it allows them to generate income by selling recyclable material to recycling companies.


The first phase of recycling begins with the citizen’s gesture. The difference in the final result is the attention paid to separating and correctly conveying the waste of glass packaging at the end of its life . The glass is all the more recyclable the more you follow, in the separate collection dedicated to it, some simple rules :

  • confer only and exclusively glass bottles and jars ;
  • do not give the plastic bag containing them together with the bottles and jars , which must go into the separate collection of plastic;
  • do not give the most frequent and harmful pollutants, the so-called “false friends” of glass together with bottles and jars , that is: plates, cups or other ceramic objects , glasses or other crystal objects , pyrex containers ; all waste that must be put in the containers of the unsorted collection.

The separate collection of glass can be carried out by road (bells) or “door-to-door” . In any case, it is important that in the transport done by the collection manager the material is not crushed excessively , as very small pieces of ceramic, crystal or pyrex, escape the selection of pollutants made in the treatment plant and ruin the virtuous efforts made by citizens.


The path towards recycling continues in the treatment plants that transform glass packaging waste into MPS (Second Raw Material) , the scrap made suitable to be recycled in the melting furnaces of the glassworks for the production of new glass containers (bottles and jars ) therefore loses the qualification of refusal ( End of Waste ). Through a process that uses increasingly sophisticated pollutant selection machines (all materials other than packaging glass)and repetitive passages, smaller and smaller fragments of foreign materials are now identified and discarded, thus allowing the recovery of fractions of fine material that until a few years ago were destined for disposal. The technology of the most advanced systems allows the selection of polluting materials, such as crystal, ceramic and pyrex, which are gradually smaller in size (currently up to 4 mm in diameter).

The fine fraction , made up of the smallest glass fragments, from which the pollutants can not be removed, can be partially recovered under certain conditions . If possible, it is transformed, through removal of the organic charge and grinding, into “glass sand” : an MPS which is also recyclable in glassworks, or in other sectors (building) , whose characteristics of use are currently the subject of scientific research, to maximize its recyclability.

Very promising is the fact that the most recent treatment plants are equipped with the technology that allows the separation of glass scraps by color , distinguishing green from amber and colorless . In this way, the possibility to start recycling what is collected is widening, since with mixed-color scrap only colored glasses are produced and a clear or amber-colored packaging cannot be produced.


The MPS received by the glassworks , after the treatment, is a glass scrap ready to be melted in the oven to replace the virgin raw materials , mostly soda and sand which, in order to become new glass, must first undergo a process of high temperature chemical transformation.

The production of new glass containers (bottles and jars) through the recycling of the MPS coming from the separate collection of glass packaging waste is a perfect example of circular economy, a model of full economic and environmental sustainability of a material called “permanent “.

Currently, kilns that produce green glass, mainly used for bottles for wine, beer and oil, can use a mixture composed of up to 90% of glass scrap . The limiting factors for the use in the glassware of MPS from separate collection is, above all, the presence of ceramic, crystal and pyrex, even in very small quantities.

The selection of glass packaging waste by color , technically possible today in the treatment plants downstream of the collection, allows the scrap to be recycled even in the production of amber or colorless containers , not possible if the MPS is of mixed color, thus expanding the recycling opportunities in the glassworks .

The molten glass comes out of the oven and is channeled towards the molds of the forming machines , in which it is blown and transformed into a new container . Subsequently, after tempering in the annealing oven where it undergoes a controlled cooling which makes it more resistant , the packaging is carefully checked with mechanical, optical and electronic machines, which guarantee the absence of defects , to be then transferred to the packaging companies of drinks and food and released for consumption . If correctly entrusted to the separate collection, after consumption the packaging can return to be recycled in the glassworks indefinitely, without any loss of material or qualitative decline.

Computer Recycling Symbol

It is known as a computer or electronic recycling the reuse or use of computers, either in full or in parts . In this sense, computers can be donated to users or organizations that need them, or their components can be separated and classified for reuse or recycling. However, the recycling of computer material is especially delicate, as some of its components can be highly toxic both for our health and for the environment, so a certain protocol must be followed for its disposal.

What is E-waste:

E-waste means waste, trash, or electronic junk. It can also be designated under the WEEE acronym, corresponding to the name of Waste Electrical and Electronic EquipmentE-waste, as such, is an English abbreviation for the expression of electronic waste, which translates into Spanish ‘electronic waste’.

In this sense, e-waste refers to all electronic devices or devices whose deterioration, disuse or obsolescence determine the end of their useful life since they are no longer capable of fulfilling the task.

One factor that contributes to the disproportionate increase in e-wastes in the world is the dynamics of constant technological development imposed by the industry, the most immediate consequence of which is the continuous production of devices that displace their predecessors. This occurs, above all, in hyperconsumer societies in the most developed countries, the main producers of technological scrap in the world.

The e-waste are comprises all kinds of technological waste, composed mainly of electronic devices powered by electricity, such as computers, cell phones, televisions, refrigerators, cameras, etc.

However, due to the materials with which they have been made, highly toxic and polluting, this type of waste requires a special type of treatment , since otherwise it can be harmful to the environment and risky to human health. In electronic waste we find substances such as mercury, harmful to the brain and nervous system; lead, harmful to the circulatory system and the brain; cadmium, which affects fertility; and chromium, which causes kidney and bone problems.

When improperly discarded, this type of waste represents a serious danger to the environment and human health, since they run the risk of breaking or reacting with other substances that promote the release of toxic agents that can even be fatal. In this way, they can be harmful to both people who handle them incorrectly and unprotected, and to those who are indirectly affected as a result of the environmental pollution they cause. Hence, there are already countries that have laws to regulate the management of electronic waste and others that are advancing bills for their control.

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