Plastic Recycling Codes
Ever wondered what the plastic recycling codes on the plastic bottles and container mean?
Plastic is one of the most widely recycled substances worldwide, though it requires more processing to recycle as compared to metal and glass. Because there are different types of plastics, the recycling mechanism for the various types of plastic also defers. Hence, there is a need for the different plastic codes to help differentiate between the different types of plastics.
These codes, also known as Plastic Identification Codes (PIC), in turn facilitate the recycling of the different plastics.
Where can you find recycling codes for plastic
Very often, you can find the plastic recycling code at the bottom or side of the plastic bottles/ cans.
These codes were introduced by the Society of Plastics Industry, Inc. so that there can be a common language when defining recycling guidelines for various types of plastics.
The seven plastic recycling codes
The various types of plastics can be divided into 7 categories. Below are the details of the 7 plastic categories, as well as the Do’s and Don’ts for each recycling each type.
- PET or Number 1 Plastics – These are plastics made up of Polyethylene Terephthalate and include water bottles, and containers for soft drinks, jam and butter jars. The plastics falling under this category of recycling codes are very tough and resistant to moisture. Curbside recycling programs often pick these up. Confirm that with your district’s program coordinator today.
- PE-HD or Number 2 Plastics – These are plastics made up of High Density Polyethylene and include milk and juice bottles, shampoo bottles and water pipes. The plastics falling under this category of recycling codes are resistant to moisture and permeable to gas. Like type 1 plastics, these are often picked up through the curbside recycling programs. Again, confirm that with your district’s program coordinator.
- PVC or Number 3 Plastics – These are plastics made up of Polyvinyl Chloride and include cling films, PVC pipes and certain juice bottles. The plastics falling under this category of plastic recycling codes are easy to blend and well suited for tough conditions. These plastics are usually not recycled as it is usually very expensive to recycle with the current technology. Moreover, there may not be enough of such items to justify their recycling.
- LDPE or Number 4 Plastics – These are plastics made up of Low Density Polyethylene and include frozen food bags, bread, shopping bags and tote bags. The plastics falling under this category of plastic recycling codes are easy to seal and fairly resistant to moisture. These plastics are usually not recycled as part of the curbside recycling programs.
- PP or Number 5 Plastics – These are plastics made up of Polypropylene and include kitchenware, medicine bottles, diapers, straws and syrup bottles. The plastics falling under this category are resistant to heat and chemicals and offer good resistance to moisture. These are usually not picked up through the curbside recycling program in your area.
- PS or Number 6 Plastics - These are plastics made up of Polystyrene and include CD cases, disposable kitchenware, meat trays and egg cartons. Make sure to check with your curbside recycling program – some programs include these while others don’t process these.
- Other or Number 7 Plastics - These are plastics made up of Polycarbonate or Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and include some water bottles, DVDs, nylon substances, baby milk bottles and various types of electronic casings. These are traditionally not recycled – make sure to check with your curbside recycling program if they process these plastics.
As a responsible citizen, it’s crucial for you to understand and recycle your plastics based on these recycling codes, in order to contribute to the success of your local area recycling program.
Read more about the recycling codes for plastic and as well as other interesting facts about recycling plastic!
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