Our Promises

The Meaning of Food Packaging Recycling Symbols

Share it with your friends
Shreddies box recycling logo

No doubt you’ve seen various logos and symbols on food packaging, including on your favourite cereals, about how to recycle or dispose of the pack. From OPRL (On-Pack Recycling Label) to the Tidy Man, we all probably recognise them but don’t necessarily understand what they mean.  Luckily, it’s easy to learn the meaning behind these regularly used symbols. Read on!


As part of our Cereal Partners' better planet promise, we want to make sure cereal lovers understand recycling and disposal symbols and where you can, and should, recycle your cereal boxes and bags as well as other types of food and drink packaging.

What is OPRL and what do the recycling labels mean? 

OPRL stands for On-Pack Recycling Label and was created to help UK consumers recycle and dispose of packaging correctly. OPRL logos use a binary method of on pack logos “Recycle” or “Do Not Recycle”, so you can see exactly how to dispose of your packaging. 


Are OPRL logos widely used in the UK?

In a word yes!  Many large and small retailers stock packs featuring OPRL logos. This includes a lot of the top 100 brands. This means you should regularly spot OPRL logos on food and drink packs you buy. 

Of course, not only grocery retailers use the OPRL logos, but Nestlé Cereals and many other brands do too. We know that OPRL logos are widely used and recognised, which is why we want to use them and help you recycle better.


Understanding key OPRL logos you’ll see

OPRL offer a simple, visual way to inform you whether you can simply pop the packaging in your household recycling bin or need to take it to a local recycling point – typically an in-store collection point. 


OPRL which show some additional actions are needed to aid recycling

Don’t worry if you see OPRL which asks you to take some additional actions like rinsing or putting a lid back on before recycling.  It will only take a couple of extra minutes and by following the actions you’ll be helping to make sure the packaging can be recycled well. Here are some examples of what you might see:


Recycle | Rinse 

This recycle packaging symbol will be seen on items such as yoghurt pots, baked beans tins, and soup cartons. The label is in place to encourage people to rinse their products before popping them into their household recycling waste bin. This ensures that any food product residue doesn’t come into contact with other materials that are being collected together.


Recycle | Rinse | Lid on 

Lids on products that are under 40mm in diameter are too small to be filtered for recycling. They tend to slip through the holes that are used to filter items at the sorting facility. If you see this recycling symbol, make sure you put the lid back on your product after rinsing it out. This will make sure it gets recycled properly at the sorting facility.

Recycling advice for our consumers in Ireland  


Here at Nestlé, we believe it’s important that everyone in the UK and in Ireland can understand how to dispose of their packaging.

You have now read a lot about OPRL, however, these symbols only apply in the UK. So, what about consumers in Ireland? We are introducing a new Ireland-specific logo on our packs. As consumers in Ireland can recycle flexible plastics at the kerbside. If you want more information on recycling and disposal of packaging in Ireland, please visit mywaste.ie


That is our handy guide on pack labels and what they mean. We hope that this guide has given you more knowledge on how to correctly dispose of and recycle packaging. Want to know more about how we at Cereal Partners are working to make a difference? Take a look at our promises for more insight.