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Recycling Plastics

#2 HDPE symbol

The numbers shown inside the chasing arrows refer to different types of plastics used in making plastic products and containers.

The numbering system is based on a voluntary plastic guide developed by the Society of The Plastics Industry (SPI). Presently, SPI is working to improve the numbering system to make it easier for you to know what to recycle.

What Do The Numbers Mean?

1 -- PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)

  • PET is used in the production of soft drink bottles, peanut butter jars...
  • PET can be recycled into fiberfill for sleeping bags, carpet fibers, rope, pillows...

2 -- HDPE (High-density polyethylene)

  • HDPE is found in milk jugs, butter tubs, detergent bottles, motor oil bottles...
  • HDPE can be recycled into flower pots, trash cans, traffic barrier cones, detergent bottles...

3 -- V (Polyvinyl chloride)

  • PVC is used in shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, fast food service items...
  • PVC can be recycled into drainage and irrigation pipes...

4 -- LDPE (Low-density polyethylene)

  • LDPE is found in grocery bags, bread bags, shrink wrap, margarine tub tops...
  • LDPE can be recycled into new grocery bags...

5 -- PP (Polypropylene)

  • PP is used in most yogurt containers, straws, pancake syrup bottles, bottle caps....
  • PP can be recycled into plastic lumber, car battery cases, manhole steps...

6 -- PS (Polystyrene)

  • PS is found in disposable hot cups, packaging materials (peanuts), and meat trays...
  • PS can be recycled into plastic lumber, cassette tape boxes, flower pots...

7 -- Other

  • This is usually a mixture of various plastics, like squeeze ketchup bottles, "microwaveable" dishes...

How Plastics Are Made...

There are two methods for making plastic containers -- blow-molding and injection molding. Blow-molding produces necked bottles (shampoo bottles), while injection molding produces tubs (margarine tubs).

Your recycling program may be based on the number system or on how the plastic was made. Check with your local recycling coordinator to find out which types of plastics are recyclable in your community. Please be sure to recycle only those plastics collected in your recycling program!

More Questions...

For additional information on the numbering system used for plastic recyclables contact:

The Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc.
1801 K Street, NW, Suite 600K
Washington, DC 20006-1301
(202) 974-5200


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