Every day we come across different packaging. And do you know what the symbols on them mean? Some are particularly important for waste segregation and our health. Learn the meaning of symbols on plastic packaging. From today they will no longer be a secret to you.

Material identification marks

The yogurt packaging or plastic juice bottle should contain information on which plastic they were made of. The information has the form of a graphic symbol. Most often it is a triangle made of arrows with a digit in the middle. Each digit symbolizes a different type of material used for packaging production.



1 – PET

Polyethylene terephthalate.Very often used material, e.g. for the production of plastic bottles for water or oil and in the production of disposable tableware.









2 – HDPE

High density polyethylene, which belongs to the group of safe plastics for food. Used for the production of milk bottles or toys.







3 – PVC

Polyvinyl chloride. Material found as food film on a roll for vegetables and fruit in supermarkets and used for packaging products in trays (e.g. Italian). Not suitable for use in the microwave because it secretes toxins. It is also worth noting that the characteristic “sleeves” on plastic bottles are usually made of PVC and should be separated from the bottles.







4 – LDPE

Low density polyethylene. Relatively safe material used for the production of food film, foil bags or ketchup packaging.









5 – PP

Reusable polypropylene, belonging to the group of safe plastics. Often used for the production of packaging intended for contact with food.








6 – PS

Polystyrene, i.e. polystyrene. Considered dangerous, therefore, according to regulations, by 2021 single-use products made of plastic, including polystyrene food containers and cups, will be banned from selling in the EU.









All other plastics and plastic laminates. Also organic materials are included in this group. These packaging are not recyclable.





Which plastic is the safest and best for recycling?

Knowing the meaning of the symbols on the packaging we will be more aware consumers. Some plastics can be harmful to health due to migration, so we should pay attention to the markings on the packaging. Plastics from groups 2, 4 and 5 are best recyclable and can be reused, thus realizing the concept of circular economy. The Circular Economy Concept assumes the rational use of resources, which should remain in circulation as long as possible. For this reason, proper segregation is so important, as it limits the negative impact of plastic on the environment.




Signs related to environmental protection

Another group of symbols are those related to environmental protection. We present the most common signs on the packaging.


  recykling, przeznaczone do recyklingu

Recycling mark – known as “Mobius loop”. This mark is a graphic form of the manufacturer’s declaration of compliance with the requirements for the possibility of using the material for recycling.



recykling, polski znak recyklingu, polska rozporządzenie


Compliant with the Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of September 3, 2014 on packaging labeling patterns, recyclability mark.




pochodzący z recyklingu


Symbol for the content in the packaging of the secondary raw material. In the example given, 65% of the materials used to make the packaging are recycled.





Signs that the packaging is biodegradable and compostable.


znaki kompostowalności, komposowalne opakowanie







To sum up, the more we are aware of what materials the packaging is made of, the easier it will be to divide the packaging into individual fractions and throw them into the appropriate container. It is worth emphasizing that almost all packaging produced by us is 100% recyclable, which is why they should be thrown into a yellow container and thus help to save natural resources.

By paying attention to the labeling of packaging and by adhering to the above principles, we can improve the quality of our lives and contribute to creating a better future.