Plastic resin codes
Plastic household containers are usually marked with a number that indicates the type of plastic. Consumers can then use this information to determine whether or not certain plastic types are collected for recycling in their area.
#1 PET, PETE (water and soda bottles, food jars and microwaveable food trays)
- Plastic #1 is one of the most common and highly recycled resins.
- Most curbside programs will accept this plastic in bottle form.
- Plastic #1 is also the main resin targeted with container deposit laws, also called bottle bills.
Read more – 360: Recycling Plastic Bottles
#2 HDPE (plastic bags, milk jugs, detergent bottles, water and soda bottles)
- Recycled plastic #2 content can be found in plastic lumber, buckets and crates, bottles for non-food items (shampoo, detergent, motor oil) and even curbside recycling bins themselves.
Read more – 360: Recycling Plastic Bags
#3 PVC (blister packs, clamshell containers, bags, pipes, some building materials)
- PVC is not commonly recycled or recyclable, nor is it biodegradable.
- More than 7 billion pounds of PVC are thrown away in the U.S. annually, and only 18 million pounds – barely one-quarter of 1 percent – is recycled.
Read more – The Ultimate Plastic Breakdown
#4 LDPE (bags, shrink wrap, coating for paper milk cartons and beverage cups, container lids, squeezable bottles)
- Because plastic #4 is often in film form, it is sometimes not accepted in curbside recycling programs.
- Its material is similar to plastic bags, and some major grocery store chains will accept this plastic packaging for recycling.
Read more – 360: Recycling Plastic Containers
#5 PP (bottle caps, medicine bottles, yogurt cups)
- Polypropylene has a good chemical resistance, a high melting point and is a strong material.
- It’s ideal for reusable food containers and other packaging that requires durability. But while this resin is as common as a ketchup bottle, it’s still often left out of curbside programs.
Read more – 360: Recycling Plastic #5
#6 PS (takeout containers, foam packaging, packing peanuts, CD cases)
- While most curbside programs do not accept plastic #6 or EPS, there are several community programs that will recycle the material.
- If there are no programs that fit your specific needs or are near your location, AFPR offers a mail-in program for consumers.
Read more – 360: Recycling Plastic #6
#7 Other (bio-based plastics made from corn, potato or sugar derivatives, 3- and 5-gallon reusable water bottles)
- Plastic #7 the catch-all category for those plastic products that do not fit into 1-6.
- These plastics are multi-layered combinations of more than one plastic resin.
Read more – Recycling Mystery: Plastic #7
Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. The American Chemistry Council is one of these partners.
Feature image courtesy of Sustainability.uic.edu