Different types of plastic containers and bottles to recycle.

Plastic Recycling Made Easy

Ever ask, “Is _________recyclable?  Ever wonder what those numbers on plastic containers mean?  For you Captain Planets out there, you already know that proper recycling  can complement your green cleaning practices.  For the uninformed yet curious, we’ll break down which types of plastics are easiest to recycle and why.  This is our guide to plastic recycling made easy.

The Society of Plastics Industry (not a secret society) came up with this numbering system to identify what these containers are made of.  These numbers are often found on the bottom of the container and are accompanied by three arrows chasing their tails. 

So, why bother? Fair question: to divert as much of your business’s waste away from landfills as possible-of course!  Also, we collectively avoid recycling contamination and chemicals being leached into the ground or up into the atmosphere.  

The Types of Plastic

Not all plastics are recyclable.  These easiest to recycle are the numbers 1 and 2.  Here’s more.

#1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) 

Common examples: Juice and water bottles.  Food jars like peanut butter and oil.

Burning question: can I recycle it?  Yes, this is one of the simpler chemical compounds.  A popular container and a no-brainer to recycle.

a recyclable plastic bottle with the number one on the bottom
Stamp of approval: numero 1

#2  High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)  

Common examples: milks jugs, shampoo bottles, and cleaning product bottles.  

The recyclability verdict: Widely used and widely recyclable.  

#3  Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC, Vinyl)

Common examples: Food containers, PVC piping, kids toys, records, shower curtains. 

The verdict: not recyclable.  These products, when incinerated can release carcinogenic dioxins into the air (not good!) 

#4  Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Common examples:  Shopping bags, garbage bags, paper milk containers.  

Captain Planet what say you?  Sometimes recyclable.  Depends on your city and State.  For example, some cities require grocers to collect the bags for recycling.  

#5  Polypropylene (PP)

Common examples: yogurt containers and medicine bottles. Straws and bottle caps.  This is essentially a recyclable plastic packaging material. 

Recyclable? Yes!

#6  Polystyrene (PS)

Common examples: Styrofoam cups, styrofoam plates, packing peanuts, food takeout clamshells. 

Sometimes recyclable.  You’ll need to check with your local service provider.

#7 Other

Common uses: reusable water jugs, oven-baking bags.

Captain Planet,  your expert opinion? Thumbs down. Not recyclable. 

There you have it, plastic recycling made easy!  In closing, a 1 o 2 can be tossed into any recycling bin.  All other numbers: check with your local community or recycling company’s guidelines. 

Always remember to wash or rinse food stuffs from the container and remove the cap before recycling it.  Have more questions?  We’re always here to help.  

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