Debunking Recycling Symbols on Plastic Containers

Debunking Recycling Symbols

Although most of us are familiar with the plastic container recycling symbol, the number inside it will differ from one plastic item to another. Each number signifies the products intended use; it will also determine the kind of recycling process that should be employed.

Plastic #1 – PETE or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

Mostly used in: water bottles, peanut butter and mayonnaise containers

  • Most common type of plastic
  • Should not be heated
  • Not encouraged to be used more than once
  • Accepted by most recycling programs

Plastic #2 – HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

Mostly used in: detergent containers, milk jugs, cleaning solutions

  • One of the safest types of plastic
  • Can withstand heat
  • Accepted by most recycling programs

Plastic #3 – V or PVC (Vinyl)

Mostly used in: shower curtains, ID cards, food wrappers, plumbing pipes

  • Not recommended to be used for cooking and heating
  • Only specific recycling programs accept it

Plastic #4 – LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

Mostly used in: carrier bags, thin squeezy bottles

  • Usually recycled into compost bins, dustbin liners, floor tiles and shipping envelopes
  • One of the safest types of plastic
  • Plastic bags can’t be put into recycling programs; however, other types of #4 plastics can be accepted by some programs

Plastic #5 – PP (Polypropylene)

Mostly used in: microwaveable plastic containers, yoghurt containers, ketchup bottles, syrup bottles and medicine bottles

  • Slightly thicker than PET
  • Can withstand heat from microwaves and dishwashers without the worry of plastic warping
  • Once recycled they are turned into brooms, auto battery cases, bins, pallets, signal lights, ice scrapers and bicycle racks
  • You can check if your local recycling program accepts plastic #5

Plastic #6 – PS (Polystyrene)

Mostly used in: styrofoam (cups, plates, meat packaging)

  • Known to leech toxic chemicals, especially when exposed to heat
  • Quite hard to recycle but not impossible; not normally accepted for recycling

Plastic #7 – Others, Miscellaneous

Mostly used in: other plastic items that do not belong to any of the abovementioned categories (e.g. sunglasses, computer cases, etc.)

  • Traditionally not recycled but some recycling programs will accept it
  • Can be recycled into plastic lumber and other custom-made products

Before you dispose of your plastic materials in your recycling bin, make sure you check our symbol guide! Solent Plastics’ high quality plastic containers are made of environmentally-friendly plastic. We never compromise on quality and we put your safety above anything else!