Which plastics are recyclable?

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To find out which plastics can be recycled in your area, contact local recycling centers and check their websites for a list of recyclable plastics. Use the resin identification code found on the bottom of plastic products to identify the type of plastic and ask if it can be recycled. There are seven types of plastics, but not all can be recycled, and proper sorting is crucial for successful recycling.

To find out what types of plastics can be recycled in your area, it may be best to contact your local city offices or recycling centres; most of these offices and centers have websites with contact information, such as email addresses or telephone numbers, posted on their web page, or they may also include a recyclable plastics list on their site. When contacting such facilities, it is suggested that you first locate the resin identification code of the plastic; this code consists of a number and several letters and is usually found on the bottom of the product. The code corresponds to the type of plastic the object is made of and can be recalled when asking the agency in charge whether the plastic is recyclable or not.

Resin identification code

To help identify and classify recyclable plastics internationally, the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) developed a standard code in the late 1980s. This code simply identifies the type of plastic used to make that item; however, it does not state whether recyclable plastic was used to make that piece, nor does it state whether that type of plastic can be recycled. Usually located on the bottom of the plastic container, the code consists of three arrows that rotate clockwise and create a triangle with rounded corners. Inside each triangle is a number that identifies the type of plastic and under each triangle is a combination of letters that correspond to the scientific name of the type of plastic. Once you have identified the resin code, you can contact your local government or recycling agencies to ask if that code corresponds to a type of recyclable plastic.

There are seven different types of plastics identified by the American Society of Plastics Industry:
1 PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate): PET is one of the plastics most frequently recycled by consumers. Containers marked with “1” and “PET” or “PETE” include some soda bottles, water bottles, plastic peanut butter jars, plastic wrap, and salad dressing bottles.2 HDPE (high-density polyethylene density): this type of recyclable material Plastics, marked with a “2” and “HDPE”, are also often recycled by consumers. Plastics included in this category include some plastic milk cartons, juice bottles, shampoo bottles, and liquid detergent containers.3 PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Marked with “3” and “PVC”, this type Plastic is less commonly accepted at local recycling centers because it’s harder to recycle. Common examples include clear food packaging, liquid detergent containers, and many construction applications, including some traffic cones.4 LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene): Marked with a “4” and “LDPE,” this type of recyclable plastic is used in some bread and frozen food bags, trash cans, and trash can liners.5 PP (polypropylene): A commonly used plastic in the automotive and construction industries is polypropylene; this plastic is marked with a “5” and “PP”. Some examples include some car battery wrappers, oil funnels, and plastic straws.6 PS (Styrofoam): Another type of recyclable plastic that isn’t commonly used by consumers is Styrofoam. Marked with “6” and “PS,” this plastic is used in some foam packaging, plastic cutlery, and protective packaging for electronics and toys.7 Other: Some plastics marked as “other,” “O,” or with a “7” cannot be recycled as they are commonly made from a combination of the previous six types of plastic, or a different type of plastic from the six listed above, and cannot be broken down for recycling. Common examples are headlight lenses and safety glasses; however, containers marked with a “7” made from recyclable plastic include some three- to five-gallon reusable water bottles.

While there are many different types of plastic, not all of them can be recycled, and some of those that do may not be eligible for curbside pickup or accepted at your local recycling center. Of the types of plastics that can be recycled, it is crucial that they are recycled with their own kind because a small amount of the wrong type of plastic can ruin the melt. Therefore, plastic sorting is a key part of the recycling process; many cities offer wastebaskets to help residents sort recyclables properly.

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