Packaging Symbols: what Do These Symbols Really Mean?

One of the most important missions of packaging is to communicate. Good packaging must have the capability to communicate clearly  to the consumer, about the product and the brand.

To assure the veracity of the information, some important messages to share through the packaging must accomplish specific regulations. To be able of using these labels the company, and the product must meet defined standards. Do you know the meaning behind these icons? What are they saying about the product, and how trust worthy are they?

If the answer is “I don’t know!”, Don’t worry! We are here to help. Let’s take a look at some of the most common packaging-certified labels.


This label is applied to packaging that is collected by 75% or more of local authorities across the UK. Some variations may include :

  • Rinse: Wash before recycling.
  • Lid on: Recycle process includes the lid.
  • Remove Sleeve: Recycle process does not include the sleeve.  

Tidy Man 

It doesn’t relate to recycling but is a reminder to be a good citizen, disposing of the item in the most appropriate manner.


The FDA’s gluten-free labeling rule has a significant impact on the ability of people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity to safely choose products.


  • It is inherently gluten-free AND the amount of gluten in the food is less than 20 ppm.
  • It contains a gluten-containing grain or an ingredient derived from a gluten-containing grain and has been processed to contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.

Period after opening

Is a graphic symbol that identifies the shelf life of a cosmetic product after its container has been opened for the first time. In the European Union, cosmetic products with a shelf life of at least 30 months are not required to carry a “best used before”. the end of … “date. Instead, there should be” an indication of the period of time after opening during which the product can be used without any harm to the consumer. “

Hazardous Materials 

The flame symbol alerts users that a chemical is flammable. It can also indicate a chemical may be pyrophoric, self-heating, self-reactive, or emit flammable gas. It may also indicate a chemical includes organic peroxides.

Green Dot 

Is the financing symbol for the organisation of recovery, sorting and recycling of sales packaging. When you see the Green Dot on packaging it means that for such packaging, a financial contribution has been paid to a qualified national packaging recovery organisation.’ Therefore, the Green Dot symbol only means the company displaying the Green Dot logo has made a financial contribution towards recycling efforts.


Beauty without bunnies 

This updated logo still serves the same purpose — companies can assure shoppers that they have met the requirements to be PETA-certified as cruelty-free. 

Companies that manufacture kind cosmetics, personal-care products, and household cleaners must answer our questions and sign a statement of assurance verifying that they do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products anywhere in the world.

Rain Forest Alliance 

The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organization working at the intersection of business, agriculture, and forests to make responsible business the new normal.

The seal means that the certified product or ingredient was produced using methods that support the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental.

USDA certified

Organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.

Dermatological tested 

Can mean a wide variety of things. It can either mean that a dermatologist was involved in the formulation process and approved of all ingredients, or it could just mean a dermatologist patch tested the product for allergic reactions on themself or others. It could’ve been tested on ten people who all have fragrance sensitivities in a lab setting, 1000 volunteers with different skin types and various allergies, patch testing done on various patients with no allergies, or a wealth of other possible samples.

Heart Check 

Foods with packages marked with this symbol meet the American Heart Association’s requirements of low amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol for people over the age of two. Additionally, this symbol supports the American Heart Association’s food science and recommendations.

Resin Identification

One of these six symbols, created and used by Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), is usually found somewhere on plastic products. These symbols identify what type of polymer resin the plastic product is made out of so plastics of the same polymer resin types can be recycled properly together.

The Leaping Bunny

Is the only internationally recognized symbol guaranteeing consumers that no new animal tests were used in the development of any product displaying it. The Logo can be seen on packaging, advertising, and websites for cosmetics and household products around the world.


Distributed and recognized globally, the Certified Vegan Logo is a registered trademark, similar in nature to the kosher mark, for products that do not contain animal products or byproducts and that have not been tested on animals. The certified logo is easily visible to consumers interested in vegan products and helps vegans to shop without constantly consulting ingredient lists.

Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) 

Offers peer-review certification to farmers and beekeepers producing food, flowers, and fiber for their local communities by working in harmony with nature, without relying on synthetic chemicals or GMOs.

The standards are based on the highest ideals of the organic movement. the approach is based on transparency,.

Estimated symbol

This E symbol indicates that the product was filled using “average fill system”. So, if this E appears under the amount in grams or milliliters on the package, it means that the product contains the amount advertised. This must appear on all products sold in the EU.


FSC 100: All the materials used in products bearing this label are sourced from forests that have been audited by an independent third party to confirm they are managed according to FSC’s rigorous social and environmental standards.

FSC Recycled Products that bear this label have been verified as being made from 100% recycled content

FSC Mixed Products that bear this label are made using a mixture of materials from FSC-certified forests, recycled materials, and/or FSC controlled wood.

BPA free 

Became a legal requirement in January 2020, as under EU regulations Bisphenol A was banned from thermal papers and plastic food packaging.

In 2017 the EU member countries unanimously decided to classify BPA as a substance of very high concern due to the potential health impact and “probable serious effects to human health”.

There is , of course, many other symbols that you can find in a package. Remember that the packaging must to be clear and must to communicate, a clear packaging can help the consumer to understand the product and take an informed purchase decision. 

If you are looking for a packaging design & manufacturing agency, please don’t hesitate to contact us. He Tien is proud to be the leader in the packaging design industry. With over 10 years of experience, we are confident to bring you packaging with the highest quality, most cost-effective solutions for you and your business!

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