Quick Question Monday : Which Plastic is Recyclable?

The majority of plastic packaging now a days is made with one of six resins: PET, HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP, or PS. Each type of plastic, or resin, has unique properties that give it a unique chemical formula.

When you think of Plastic bottles, you may think that it is made of one material. However, many plastic packaging components consist of multiple resins. A clear PET bottle may have a PP plastic cap, and a lotion pump will have multiple components of different materials with the actuator made of PP plastic, the sliding piston from HDPE, and the sealing gasket from LDPE plastic. Not to mention the metal spring that makes sure the pump returns to the upright position.

So which plastic resin is recyclable?

The complete and accurate list will differ from place to place - depending on the recycle program in the local community. But commonly speaking these resins are recyclable: PET, HDPE, LDPE, and PP. Many plastic bottles identify the resin it is made from via a triangular shaped symbol (most often three chasing arrows that resemble a recycling symbol), and a numeric number (from 1 - 7) within that triangle. So the number you are looking for is 1, 2, 4, and 5. The majority of the plastic caps are made from PP plastic (#5) and can be recycled.

The resins that are not typically recyclable are PVC (Plastic #3), PS - Polystryrene (Plastic #6), and OTHER (Plastic #7.)

If a container has a recycling symbol on the bottom, doesn’t it mean it’s recyclable? 

No. The symbol on the bottle does not designate that the container is recyclable; that numbered symbol on the bottom is the resin identification code (RIC) that is used to sort the type of plastic a product or package is made from.

To get an accurate determination of which plastic is recyclable in your locality, consult with your local governing body to determine which plastics are collected in their recycling program.

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