Each time I recycle my garbage, I must wonder why are these European recycling symbols so complicated. For example this one:

enter image description here

This symbol is really cryptic for me as a user. PP could stand for both "paper" and "plastic" and 05 provides no information at all without a code table in my head.

What I really need to know is which of these I should use:

enter image description here

I find it really frustrating.

How could we improve recycling symbols on our products to make them self-explanatory, high-contrast enough on all type of packages of different colors and providing useful information for users?

  • All you need to know is what you have in your hand. Is it made out of plastic, put it into the container for plastic, is it made out of paper, put it into the container for paper. In your case PP = Polypropylen, thats plastic, red container
    – rhauger
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:27
  • It's not entirely clear what you're asking here. Finding out 'Why is X like this?' questions are ones we can only speculate on (unless the designer who actually worked on these sees this question). If you're asking for suggestions for improvements to the symbols, then really that's a request for new icons, and that's not something that is on-topic for this site. It's more a Graphic Design question than a User Experience one.
    – JonW
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:52


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