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Recycling Plastics

#2 HDPE symbol

The numbers shown inside the chasing arrows (also known as the Mobius Loop) was developed by the Society of Plastics Industry and refers to different types of resins used in making plastic products and containers. The different resin types give packaging, containers, and products different characteristics. However, when packaging or products have these symbols stamped on them, it does not necessarily mean the item is recyclable in your local recycling program. Please check your local program rules or contact your local recycling coordinator to find out what types of plastic containers are accepted.

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, detergent and shampoo bottles.
  • HDPE can be recycled into non food bottles and recycling bins.

3 -- V (Polyvinyl chloride)

  • PVC is used in personal care products and other household goods.
  • PVC can be recycled into drainage and irrigation pipes.

4 -- LDPE (Low-density polyethylene)

  • LDPE is used in bubble wrap, shrink wrap and bread bags.
  • LDPE can be recycled into furniture and flooring.

5 -- PP (Polypropylene)

  • PP is used in dairy products tubs.
  • PP can be recycled into brooms, brushes and garden rakes.

6 -- PS (Polystyrene)

  • #6 polystyrene is unique in that it comes in many different forms. It can be found as both a rigid, clear plastic as well as a foamed material where the plastic has been "expanded" by air into a foam. Polystyrene is also used in other different forms for construction and building projects.
  • Expanded Polystyrene foam is commonly found in disposable food containers used for prepared food and beverages such as takeout containers, cups, plates, bowls and trays as well as loose fill packaging materials (packing peanuts) and trays used for packaged raw meat, fish and eggs.
  • Currently, the majority of local recycling programs for residents do not accept this material for recycling because it can be difficult to sort, can decrease the value of other recyclables through contamination, and is not economically viable.

7 -- Other

  • Mixture of various plastics

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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