A Guide To Recycling Codes On Plastic Containers

Not all plastics are the same. That’s why there’s a number code on the bottom for recycling.

Below is a breakdown on the plastic recycling codes, including what types of products are usually produced with that plastic in its first life, how to recycle it, and what it can be recycled into for its second life.

Number 1 Plastics – PET or PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

Recycle code 11st Life: Soda, water and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers; etc.
Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs.
2nd Life: Polar fleece fiber, tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling, and occasionally made into new plastic containers

Number 2 Plastics – HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

Recycle code 21st Life: Milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; cereal box liners; etc.
Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs.
2nd Life: Detergent bottles, recycling containers, floor tile, drainage pipe, benches, picnic tables, fencing

Number 3 Plastics – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

Recycle code 31st Life: Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping; etc.
Recycling: Rarely recycled because collecting it for recycling is cost-prohibitive. There are not enough items made from the material to warrant factories to recycle it into new products; however some plastic lumber makers will now accept it.
2nd Life: Decks, paneling, mud flaps, roadway gutters, flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats

Number 4 Plastics – LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

Recycle code 41st Life: Squeezable bottles; bread, dry cleaning and shopping bags; tote bags; carpet; etc.
Recycling: Rarely picked up through curbside programs, however some stores will accept plastic shopping bags for recycling.
2nd Life: Trash can liners and cans, compost bins, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, floor tile

Number 5 Plastics – PP (Polypropylene)

Recycle code 51st Life: Syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws, medicine bottles, diapers; etc.
Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs.
2nd Life: Battery cables, brooms, brushes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, rakes, bins

Number 6 Plastics – PS (Polystyrene)

Recycle code 61st Life: Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases; etc.
Recycling:
Picked up through some curbside recycling programs.
2nd Life: Insulation, light switch plates, egg cartons, vents, rulers, foam packing, carry-out containers

Number 7 Plastics – Other

Recycle code 71st Life: 3 and 5 gallon water bottles, ‘bullet-proof’ materials, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and computer cases, signs and displays, nylon; etc.
Recycling:
Not traditionally recycled, however some curbside programs now take them.
2nd Life: Plastic lumber, custom-made products

43 Comments on “A Guide To Recycling Codes On Plastic Containers”

  • The Daily Five: Friday, 18 July, 2008 | EcoTech Daily July 18th, 2008 3:12 am

    [...] A Guide To Recycling Codes On Plastic Containers: With weekend shopping and errands ahead, we thought we’d pass along this handy and easy-to-understand guide to reading plastic bottle codes put together by The Go Green Blog. What we particularly like about this presentation is that it lists how the different varieties of bottles are usually recycled. While you’re at it, learn to read those cryptic codes you see on fruit sold at the grocery story. (The Go Green Blog) [...]

  • Top 5 Reasons To Not Buy Bottled Water | The Go Green Blog July 31st, 2008 9:00 am

    [...] for multiple uses. Hence the word “disposable”. The #1 polyethylene terephthalate, or PET is fine for a single use, but reuse can lead to chemical leaching of toxins such as DEHA, a known [...]

  • Aveda’s Recycle Caps Program | The Go Green Blog August 5th, 2008 9:19 am

    [...] to our oceans and wildlife. Aveda realizes that we do not have an operable system in place to recycle plastic bottle caps, so they created [...]

  • Wow Green Cleaning Products | The Go Green Blog May 6th, 2009 8:45 am

    [...] to mention, Wow Green products are delivered in either recyclable or reusable containers. Recyclable containers are delivered full of product and should be recycled when empty. Reusable containers are the six [...]

  • Green All-In-One Blogs » Blog Archive » Product of the Week - Wow Green Cleaning Products May 6th, 2009 9:58 pm

    [...] to mention, Wow Green products are delivered in either recyclable or reusable containers. Recyclable containers are delivered full of product and should be recycled when empty. Reusable containers are the six [...]

  • Product of the Week - Wow Green Cleaning Products | Dekalb Academy of Technology & the Environment May 7th, 2009 8:20 am

    [...] to mention, Wow Green products are delivered in either recyclable or reusable containers. Recyclable containers are delivered full of product and should be recycled when empty. Reusable containers are the six [...]

  • Clear Cards July 13th, 2009 1:56 am

    I find the valuable information is provided by you.
    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  • Recycled Plastic Park Benches January 20th, 2010 8:15 pm

    We recycle plastic for all our products that we sell. This guide is great for the consumer. To many people do not understand recycling codes.

  • jack January 27th, 2010 1:47 pm

    well i think diffrent i think that we use it to keep are enviroment good

  • Tip of the Week – Recycle Aluminum Foil - The Go Green Blog February 10th, 2010 11:04 am

    [...] lot of your favorite household products are recyclable. Products such as aluminum foil are often overlooked, but can be thrown in the recycling bin along [...]

  • Dekalb Academy of Technology & the Environment » Blog Archive » Tip of the Week – Recycle Aluminum Foil February 10th, 2010 10:22 pm

    [...] lot of your favorite household products are recyclable. Products such as aluminum foil are often overlooked, but can be thrown in the recycling bin along [...]

  • foldable container March 2nd, 2010 8:37 pm

    hehe.thanks for your .share.
    so deeply felt.

  • Bella March 15th, 2010 2:19 pm

    Hey everyone be green, this is the only Earth we have!!!!
    So tale care of it, it is very specieal !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    :)

  • jarq April 1st, 2010 7:09 am

    Nice info. I’ve allways woundered what they mean.

  • golf umbrella April 15th, 2010 8:07 pm

    Cool. Talking about makes sense. Is recognized. Hope that it will often share such a good text. I will always be concerned about, because you can learn some knowledge, thank you for sharing, a

  • dollar item April 23rd, 2010 7:21 pm

    I have been reading this blog for some time now but never bothered to comment until today. Wanted to let you know that I am a fan and enjoy your work.

  • expekt May 10th, 2010 4:29 pm

    I think you are talented writer, keep us posting

  • Offer wrist watches May 31st, 2010 1:09 am

    thank you for share with us,i like it very much and i will always come to attention.

  • Linda Ower June 9th, 2010 10:54 am

    is there a problem with refilling code 1 recyclable water bottles?

  • house clearance July 26th, 2010 4:20 am

    i never knew there was different codes on bottles, very interesting

  • Eco Pure August 6th, 2010 11:43 am

    Nice post!
    Very informative blog. I learn a lot of knowledge and I look forward to future post.
    If you would like to become a distributor of EcoPure within your territory, visit Green plastics.

  • Free Avatars August 8th, 2010 3:00 pm

    A topic close to my heart thanks. A good quick read.

  • golf umbrella August 19th, 2010 1:01 am

    Oh, so unexpected, so surprise! Very touching, so well written and I have some perception, learning very much. Thank you for sharing. Very happy to see these and believe that your point of view. This same time,i love golf umbrella very much !

  • online conveyancing August 26th, 2010 11:49 am

    This is a great post. Thanks for sharing this.

  • porno August 31st, 2010 2:47 pm

    I will be checking back sometime to see if you have any new content, cheers.

  • long halter dress September 2nd, 2010 11:32 pm

    It’s interesting how many information and news come out on a weekly basis.

  • halter dress September 3rd, 2010 9:26 pm

    Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck!

  • truthaboutabs September 8th, 2010 7:29 pm

    Hi, good day. Wonderful post. You have gained a new subscriber. Pleasee continue this great work and I look forward to more of your great blog posts.

  • Silverfish Bug September 8th, 2010 8:46 pm

    You certainly deserve a round of applause for your post and more specifically, your blog in general. Very high quality material.

  • Product of the Week – EARTHTEC Apparel - The Go Green Blog September 9th, 2010 2:37 pm

    [...] takes PET & HDPE plastics (like water bottles, food containers such as ketchup and non-food containers for items like [...]

  • Green Printing September 10th, 2010 12:48 pm

    I have been wondering for so long what these numbers on the bottom of all my plastics meant. It’s good to know… though frustrating at how many are not recycled.

  • Outdoor Water Features September 12th, 2010 7:15 am

    Great topic, even better discussion, really.

  • Isaac Kawell September 28th, 2010 1:33 am

    “As a Beginner, I am generally searching on the web for posts that can support me. Give thanks to you”

  • best cookbooks October 11th, 2010 9:17 pm

    After reading this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this post together. Once again I find myself spending way to much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

  • insider trading October 12th, 2010 11:30 pm

    Thanks for giving me a better understanding on the affair. I was not acquainted with the affair before. However, after researching your post, I am sure that I catch it with confidence. Vera

  • Maryam Butanda October 14th, 2010 4:09 pm

    Why even bother?

  • Lyndsay Bonebrake November 27th, 2010 10:23 am

    Just one word to say about this blog… thoughtful. Hope you carry on with the thoughtful posts!

  • Richard December 6th, 2010 1:07 pm

    Every 1 ton of plastic recycled can save amount of water that can be used by 1 person for 2 months or almost 1800 pounds of oil or 1 year of 2 people’s energy requirement. Over it, recycling plastic saves money this optimizing resources as well as consumer surpluses.

    http://www.blueplanetrecycling.ca/about-us/

  • Kim January 1st, 2011 10:48 am

    I have a lot of plastic containers that food comes in, butter, deli foods etc., the containers have a 5 on them but the lids have a 4. Are both recycled?

  • Richard January 5th, 2011 12:50 pm

    Make sure to check out these 272 types of plastics and their chemical codes.

    http://www.blueplanetrecycling.ca/types-of-plastics/

  • Toxic Plastics – Not Just BPA « The EssentiaList March 17th, 2011 7:27 pm

    [...] Go-Green: A Guide to Recycling Codes on Plastic Containers [...]

  • Andrew Cheng March 24th, 2011 6:17 am

    Many people do not understand why there are plastic recycling numbers. Thank you for clearing things up for us. Excellent post!

  • waste transfer stations April 19th, 2011 9:32 pm

    Plastic containers do really take a million years before they decompose. It is better to recycle them than to trash them to help maintain their usefulness.