A Guide To Recycling Codes On Plastic Containers

By | June 17, 2008

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.
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.
Not traditionally recycled, however some curbside programs now take them.
2nd Life: Plastic lumber, custom-made products

43 thoughts on “A Guide To Recycling Codes On Plastic Containers

  1. Pingback: The Daily Five: Friday, 18 July, 2008 | EcoTech Daily

  2. Pingback: Top 5 Reasons To Not Buy Bottled Water | The Go Green Blog

  3. Pingback: Aveda’s Recycle Caps Program | The Go Green Blog

  4. Pingback: Wow Green Cleaning Products | The Go Green Blog

  5. Pingback: Green All-In-One Blogs » Blog Archive » Product of the Week - Wow Green Cleaning Products

  6. Pingback: Product of the Week - Wow Green Cleaning Products | Dekalb Academy of Technology & the Environment

  7. Clear Cards

    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.

  8. jack

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

  9. Pingback: Tip of the Week – Recycle Aluminum Foil - The Go Green Blog

  10. Pingback: Dekalb Academy of Technology & the Environment » Blog Archive » Tip of the Week – Recycle Aluminum Foil

  11. Bella

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

  12. golf umbrella

    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

  13. dollar item

    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.

  14. Eco Pure

    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.

  15. golf umbrella

    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 !

  16. porno

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

  17. halter dress

    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!

  18. truthaboutabs

    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.

  19. Silverfish Bug

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

  20. Pingback: Product of the Week – EARTHTEC Apparel - The Go Green Blog

  21. Green Printing

    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.

  22. best cookbooks

    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!

  23. insider trading

    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

  24. Richard

    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.


  25. Kim

    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?

  26. Pingback: Toxic Plastics – Not Just BPA « The EssentiaList

  27. Andrew Cheng

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

  28. waste transfer stations

    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.

Comments are closed.