Understanding recycling symbols for plastic

Understanding symbols on product packaging and what can be recycled can be confusing. There are symbols for plastic, glass, metals, paper and more.

The most common symbol found on product packaging is for plastic. It can take a very long time for certain plastics to decompose, and some not at all.

Not all plastics are created alike nor are recycled the same. Please check with your local curbside or recycling center for details on what types of plastics are accepted.

No. 1

Type: Polyethylene terephthalate, or PETE.

Used in: Plastic beverage bottles, containers for peanut butter, salad dressing and microwaveable food.

Recycling ability: Easiest and most widely accepted by most recycling programs.

Recycled into: Carpet, fiberfill for coats, jackets, sleeping bags and life jackets (think polyester).

No. 2

Type: High-density polyethylene, or HDPE.

Used in: Milk, butter, and yogurt containers. Shampoo, laundry detergent and bleach bottles.  

Recycling ability: Easy and widely accepted.

Recycled into: Toys, floor tile, picnic tables, plastic rope and fencing.

No. 3

Type: Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC.

Used in: PVC pipes available for home projects. PVC is also used in shower curtains, baby bottle nipples, and shrink wrap.

Recycling ability: Not easy and is only occasionally accepted.

Recyled into: Fencing, decks, gutters, flooring, loose leaf binders, traffic cones.

No. 4

Type: Low-density polyethylene, or LDPE.

Used in: Grocery, bread and sandwich bags. Squeezable bottles. Clothing, carpet, furniture, and toys.

Recycling ability: Very difficult and not widely accepted. The best way to recycle LDPE’s is to reuse them.

Recycled into: Trash cans, garbage can liners, outdoor lumber.

No. 5

Type: Polypropylene (PP)

Used in: Tupperware, ketchup, syrup, and medicine bottles. Straws and plastic bottle caps.

Recycled into: Battery cables, ice scrapers, bicycle racks, bins and trays, funnels, garden rakes, shipping pallets.

Recycling ability: Difficult, might occasionally be accepted.

No. 6

Type: Polystyrene (PS), aka Styrofoam.

Used in: Disposable cutlery and plates, meat trays, coffee cups, packing peanuts, insulation, egg cartons and carryout containers.

Recycling ability: Difficult, might occasionally be accepted.

Recycled into: Re-manufactured PS can be used in foam insulation, license plate frames, switch panels, egg cartons, foam packing and carryout containers.

No. 7

Type: made from a combination of plastics or a plastic material that does not fall under any of the other classification.

Used in: 3- and 5-gallon water bottles, oven baking bags, DVDs, bullet-proof materials, and many plastic signs and displays.

Recycling ability: Most difficult and are often not recycled.

Recycled into: Can be re-manufactured into plastic lumber.

~Visit www.soymagic.com for more information about SoyWorld USA~

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