Why are most plastics marked with a number inside a recycling symbol? The simple answer is that each number represents the type of resin made to produce the plastic.
Because each resin is different, these numbers affect how and where you can recycle plastics. You don’t have to remember the name. Plastics are identified by numbers 1-7.
Here are some common products you’ll find of each type:
- No. 1 PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)*: Soda bottles, oven-ready meal trays and water bottles
- No. 2 HDPE (High-density Polyethylene)*: Milk bottles, detergent bottles (Note that while plastic grocery and shopping bags are made of HDPE, they will prevent the operation of recycling machinery, so plastic bags are usually not allowed in recycle bins. You must take them to your grocery or retail store to place in their recycling bins.)
- No. 3 PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Plastic food wrap, loose-leaf binders, and plastic pipes
- No. 4 LDPE (Low-density Polyethylene): Dry cleaning bags, produce bags, and squeezable bottles
- No. 5 PP (Polypropylene): Medicine bottles, aerosol caps, and drinking straws
- No. 6 PS (Polystyrene): Compact disc jackets, packaging Styrofoam peanuts, and plastic tableware
- No. 7 Other: Reusable water bottles, certain kinds of food containers, and Tupperware
*PET and HDPE are the most common forms of plastic, so they are the easiest for which recycling locations are found