Learning to count [in recycling] ♳♴♵♶♷♸♹

It was predicted the first rant would be about council not collecting a bin - sorry to disappoint, it is about the Brady label printer and its labels.

You will notice the recycling symbol on the cartridge. I can only assume there are incentives for companies to do this or possible some apparent PR in doing so.

But let's consider this specific case, a plastic cartridge for printed labels. I wonder what bin that goes in, especially as my council seem to have quite a complicated mix of bins to choose from.

Well, helpfully, Brady include a little (paper) leaflet in with the cartridge to help you know.

This is it.

There you go, recycling instructions, in lots and lots of languages. The fact that the only text is actually the bit saying "recycling instructions" makes that a tad crazy to me.

But what are the instructions... Surely it is just which bin to put it in? Well, let's look... WOW!

Only 6 steps...

  • Use a screwdriver to remove the chip.
  • Use a screwdriver to break apart.
  • Break apart.
  • Remove remnants of label (this goes in general waste bin 🗑), and the bottom of the case which goes in ♸.
  • Separate the spindle in to 3 parts, one goes in general waste 🗑, and two in ♹.
  • Finally dispose of the rest, a washer in ♳PETE (is that the same as just ♳?), and a washer in ♴HDPE (is that the same as just ♴), The chip in electrical waste (WEEE) which is not something the council collect and I don't even have a unicode symbol for. Some in a 40 FE waste (again, not finding a symbol for that), and another washer thing, and the top of case in ♹ (unlike the bottom of the case which is in ♸).

The leaflet ignores (and I have emailed Brady to ask why):-

  • The leaflet itself, presumably paper waste?
  • The cardboard box it comes in, presumably card waste?
  • The plastic bag it comes in - maybe non-recyclable, or perhaps another plastic waste number?
  • The backing paper that you remove when printing a label?
  • The label itself if later removed and disposed of? This is presumably a per product matter as they do different materials for labels.

This is at least EIGHT different types of waste you are expected to separate somehow (maybe 9 if the wrapper is another plastic type), on a small label cartridge. And I have no clue how those different types of waste map to the council bins, seriously. And I am not paid for this!

To clarify:-

  1. ♳PETE for a washer
  2. ♴HDPE for a washer
  3. WEEE for the chip
  4. 40FE for some metal bits
  5. ♸ for case bottom
  6. ♹ for case top
  7. General (non recyclable) 🗑 for tail of label
  8. Paper waste for instruction leaflet, and assuming the same, card waste for the box
  9. The plastic bag, not mentioned, may be 🗑 or maybe not
  10. The backing paper (is it paper) for the label
  11. The printed label itself - per label type, I assume

The fact that even Unicode cannot keep up with the number of waste types is clue here.

Please tell me this makes sense


  • I have emailed the council with a link to this asking which bag each of the 8/9 types of waste apply, I'll post their reply.
  • Surely people making "clone" label packs will want the chip, rather than going to WEEE?
  • I am told these symbols ♳ to ♹ don't mean "recycling" but are just types of plastic, so as "recycling instructions" these are bullshit, and actually most of it is simply not recyclable. Will be interesting to see what council say.
  • Would it not be better to make these things so they can open, and load a new reel of paper and close - reusing instead of recycling?


  1. Given 6 (polystyrene) and 7 (other) are generally not recyclable, I'd chalk this one down to BS greenwashing, and concentrate on getting all the everyday PET/PP/HDPE packaging recycled.

  2. I find it interesting/telling that the symbols in the 'recycling guide' are not actually the recycling symbol; they're 'resin identification codes', a.k.a. 'I look like the recycling logo but I'm just here for the greenwashing fun'.


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