How to Recycle Plastic: Understanding the Recycling Numbers on Plastic Containers
There are actually a wide variety of plastic types, as you may or may not know. Many containers that are composed of plastic will have a corresponding “plastic number type” stamped into the bottom of the container. This number tells you the exact type of material, and how you should go about recycling that container. Just because there is an example product listed below next to a specific number, it should be known that each of these products may be contained or packaged within other types of plastic.
- #1 PET – (PolyEthylene Terephthalate) will appear clear or slightly tinted; it has a high melting point: soft salad dressing, drinking bottles, peanut butter jars, sheeting for microwave food trays. Recycled PET is also used to produce carpets and clothing (polyester).
- #2 HDPE – (High Density PolyEthylene) will appear translucent or colored: this plastic is often used for water and detergent bottles, milk jugs, tubs containing margarine or cool whip, bleach bottles, lotion bottles, shampoo bottles, and other bath products such as bath bubbles.
- #3 Vinyl – PVC (PolyVinyl Chloride) will have a shiny surface and will also sink in water. Shampoo bottles, or bottles of vegetable oil, things such as laundry detergent containers or bottles of other sorts of cooking oils. This will often include more hazardous materials like window cleaning products. Fresh meat wrappers may also be included here.
- #4 LDPE (Low Density PolyEthylene) this may contain things like mustard containers, tubs of margarine or butter spreads, and coffee can lids.
- #5 PP (PolyPropylene) this category will often contain things like bottles of syrup or ketchup, and other products such as squeezable jelly.
- #6 PS (PolyStyrene) this category is almost exclusively limited to things such as styrofoam containers.
- #7 OTHER This category is the catch-all and includes any and all other types of plastics.
Here Is a Brief List of What to Do Before You Recycle Plastic
- Begin by washing out all containers
- Next, make sure to remove non-plastic lids
- Whatever you do, do not mix different types of plastic unless that is permitted by your collector
- Remember to also remove plastic containers from bags
More information here on Recycling Revolution for all sorts of materials.
Or consult the category: 100 Common Household Items and How to Recycle Them here on the site.