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Sep 04

06/01/18 - What Does the Recycle Symbol Mean?

Posted on September 4, 2020 at 4:50 PM by Mila Susnjar

Recycling arrows surrounding planet EarthIf you see a recycle symbol, don't automatically place the item into your recycling cart or bring it to your community's recycling drop-off.

Think About the Item

First, think about what the item is. Is it a plastic cup/plate/container/toy? If so, then the recycling symbol with the number really exists to identify the type of polymer the item is.


Is it a battery? Batteries are best recycled at a facility such as ReWorks' Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Center (HHWRC) or at a Batteries Plus Bulbs store. The symbol is letting you know that the battery should be properly recycled.

Batteries should never go into your recycling cart or community recycling drop-off center.

Plastic Bags

Is the material a plastic bag? These plastic bags are best brought to a grocery store and collected in bulk.


Is the material metal? Metal cans for food and beverage containers are recyclable in our recycling carts and at community recycling drop-off centers. However, any other type of metal needs to go to a scrap yard. This includes car parts, sheet metal, siding, etc.


Second, when in doubt about whether an item should go into the recycling cart or not, here are some tips:

  1. Contact your Solid Waste Management District or Authority. Here in Summit County, ReWorks is the Solid Waste Management Authority. You can email us or call 330-374-0383.
  2. If you cannot find an answer, please throw it out rather than recycle it. "Wish-cycling" is placing an item into the recycling system, when you don't know if it is recyclable or not. When we wish-cycle, often the item becomes a contaminant. While many of us feel that a certain item should be recycled, if there is no way to collect the item at our Material Recovery Facilities then where does recycled material go? Wish-cycled items make the recycling of other materials harder.