A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic

Published by Daryll Villena on

A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic

A detailed guide for homemakers, parents, mothers most especially with infants and health-consious individual to distinguished recycle plastic codes. An informative gauge to which type of plastics are recommended for re-use and avoid.

Safety Tips:
  • Basic safe codes are No.2, No.4, and No.5
  • Store food and water in glass or stainless steel containers whenever possible
  • Minimize or eliminate exposure to plastics with codes No.1, No.3, No.6 and No.7
  • Do not use products [especially baby bottles] identified with No. 7
A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 1PETE = Polyethylene Terephthalate
A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 2

Number 1 Plastics
PET or PETE [polyethylene terephthalate] 

Common Use: Plastic bottles, single-use water bottles, soft drink, sports bottles, beer bottles, mouthwash bottles, peanut butter containers, salad dressing and vegetable oil containers ovenable food trays other food jars and cosmetic containers.
Recycle Rate: 23%
Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs.
Recycled into: Polar fleece, fiber, tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling, straps, [occasionally] new containers.
Recommendation: Be careful with products labeled No.1. Designed for single use only. Extended use increases risk of leaching and bacterial growth.

PET plastic is the most common for single-use bottled beverages, because it is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to recycle. It poses low risk of leaching breakdown products. Recycling rates remain relatively low (around 20%), though the material is in high demand by re-manufacturers.


A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 3HDPE = High Density Polyethylenez
A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 4
Number 2 Plastics
HDPE [high density polyethylene]

Common Use: Milk jugs, juice bottles, bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles, shampoo bottles, some trash and shopping / grocery bags, motor oil bottles, butter and yogurt tubs, cereal box liners.
Recycle Rate: 27%
Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs, although some allow only those containers with necks.
Recycled into: Laundry detergent bottles, oil bottles, pens, recycling containers, floor tile, drainage pipe, lumber, benches, doghouses, picnic tables, fencing.
Recommendation: Appears to be safe.
HDPE is a versatile plastic with many uses, especially for packaging. It carries low risk of leaching and is readily recyclable into many goods. 

A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 5PVC = Polyvinyl Chloride 
A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 6

Number 3 Plastics
V [Vinyl] or PVC 

Common Use: Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping, garden hose, cable sheating, window frames, blisperpacks, bloodbags, meat wrap.
Recycle Rate: <1%
Recycling: Rarely recycled; accepted by some plastic lumber makers. 
Recycled into: Decks, paneling, mudflaps, roadway gutters, flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats
Recommendation:Avoid! Nicknamed the Poison Plastic, may contain dangerous toxins.
PVC is tough and weathers well, so it is commonly used for piping, siding and similar applications. PVC contains chlorine, so its manufacture can release highly dangerous dioxins. If you must cook with PVC, don’t let the plastic touch food. Also never burn PVC, because it releases toxins.

A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 7 LDPE = Low Density Polyethylene
A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 8
Number 4 Plastics
LDPE [low density polyethylene] 

Common Use: Squeezable bottles, bread bags, frozen food / plastic food wrap, dry cleaning, shopping bags, tote bags, heavy duty bags,clothing, furniture, carpet.
Recycle Rate: <1% 
Recycling: LDPE is not often recycled through curbside programs, but some communities will accept it. Plastic shopping bags can be returned to many stores for recycling.
Recycled into: Trash can liners and cans, compost bins, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, landscaping ties, floor tile.
Recommendation: Appears to be safe.
LDPE is a flexible plastic with many applications. Historically it has not been accepted through most American curbside recycling programs, but more and more communities are starting to accept it.

A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 9PP = Polypropylene 
A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 10
Number 5 Plastics
PP [polypropylene] 

Common Use:  Medicine bottles, yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws, cereal liners, packing tape, potato chip bags. 
Recycle Rate: 3%
Recycling: Number 5 plastics can be recycled through some curbside programs. Recycled into: Signal lights, battery cables, brooms, brushes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, rakes, bins, pallets, trays.
Recommendation: Appears to be safe.
Polypropylene has a high melting point, and so is often chosen for containers that must accept hot liquid. It is gradually becoming more accepted by recyclers.

A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 11PS = Polystyrene 

A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 12
Number 6 Plastics
PS [polystyrene] 

Common Use: Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, plastic cutlery, foam packaging, aspirin bottles, compact disc and video cases.
Recycle Rate: <1%
Recycling: Number 6 plastics can be recycled through some curbside programs.
Recycled into: Insulation, light switch plates, egg cartons, vents, rulers, foam packing, carry-out containers.
Recommendation:Avoid! May leach styrene, a possible human carcinogen. Maybe a hormone disruptor.
Polystyrene can be made into rigid or foam products — in the latter case it is popularly known as the trademark Styrofoam. Evidence suggests polystyrene can leach potential toxins into foods. The material was long on environmentalists’ hit lists for dispersing widely across the landscape, and for being notoriously difficult to recycle. Most places still don’t accept it, though it is gradually gaining traction.

A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 13Other PC = Polycarbonate 

A Guide to Recycling Symbols on Plastic 14

Number 7 Plastics
Miscellaneous 

Common Use: baby bottles,3 and 5-gallon water bottles, water cooler bottles, bullet-proof materials, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and computer cases, signs and displays, certain food containers, nylon, car parts.
Recycle Rate: <1%
Recycling: Number 7 plastics have traditionally not been recycled, though some curbside programs now take them.
Recycled into: Plastic lumber, custom-made products.
Recommendation:Caution! Concern with leaching of Bisphenol A which appears to cause chromosonal damage.
A wide variety of plastic resins that don’t fit into the previous categories are lumped into number 7. A few are even made from plants (polyactide) and are compostable. Polycarbonate is number 7, and is the hard plastic that has parents worried these days, after studies have shown it can leach potential hormone disruptors.

Images/Information Source:
Credits to The Daily Green and Plastic Free Bottles


Daryll Villena

Member of EchoManila trio, website and content creator: www.deiville.com, www.foodamn.com, and www.philippinespublictoilet.com. Full-time employee by day and digital strategist remotely.

1 Comment

Margery · September 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm

What’s up, of course this piece of writing is truly good and I have learned lot of things from it about blogging. thanks.

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