Your Go-To Guide: All You Need to Know About Recycling Plastic

 The Secrets of the Plastic Recycling Numbers Revealed

The world population is growing, and currently, each human being adds a substantial amount of waste to the planet over his or her lifetime. Recent studies show that in New York, alone, people produce enough trash in one day to fill The Empire State Building!

This is why recycling is so important. Recycling conserves energy, reduces air pollution, slows climate change and lowers waste in landfills. By starting to make small changes and incorporating recycling into your daily life, you will begin to make a big impact.

At the bottom of most plastic containers, you will find a small number inside of the three arrow triangle recycling symbol. This number references what type of plastic the container is made of. Each plastic is composed of a different set of molecules, and different molecules do not mix when plastics are recycled. For this reason, they need to be separated.

The recycling numbers are a uniform way of classifying the different types of plastic and it aids recyclers during the sorting process. Recycled materials need to be sorted correctly so not to contaminate the recycling stream.


Here are the basics:

Number 1 – PETE – Polyethylene Terephthalate

  • Soda Bottles
  • Water Bottles
  • Beer Bottles
  • Salad Dressing Containers
  • Peanut Butter Containers
  • Mouthwash Bottles


Number 2 – HDPE – High-Density Polyethylene

  • Laundry/Dish Detergent
  • Shampoo & Conditioner Bottles
  • Household Cleaners
  • Juice Bottles
  • Milk Jugs


Number 3 – V – Vinyl

  • Pipes
  • Shower Curtains
  • Clear Medical Tubing
  • Cooking Oil Bottles
  • Windows


Number 4 – LDPE – Low-Density Polyethylene

  • Wrapping Films
  • Sandwich Bags
  • Frozen Food Containers
  • Squeezable Bottles
  • Clothing
  • Carpet
  • Shopping Bags

*Note that most cities accept plastics #4 for recycling, but NOT grocery bags (these may get stuck in the sorting machines).


Number 5 – PP – Polypropylene:

  • Tupperware
  • Yogurt Tubs
  • Orange Medicine Bottles
  • Plastic Caps Of Soda Bottles
  • Ketchup Bottles
  • Syrup Bottles


Number 6 – PS – Polystyrene:

  • Plastic Cups and Plates
  • Disposable Cutlery
  • Coffee Cups
  • Egg Cartons
  • Meat Trays
  • Packing Peanuts
  • Styrofoam Insulation


*Note that most cities accept plastics #6 for recycling, but NOT styrofoam, peanuts, etc. (these are contaminated by food easily).


Number 7 – OTHER:

All of the plastic resins that don’t fit into the other categories are placed in the number 7 category.

  • Biodegradable Plastics (Made From Plants)
  • Sunglasses
  • Cell Phone Cases
  • Baby Bottles
  • Sippy Cups
  • Three And Five Gallon Large Water Storage Containers
  • Metal Food Can Liners
  • Oven-Baking Bags
  • DVDs & Blu-Ray Discs
  • Snowboards
  • Carbonless Paper Receipts
  • Custom Packaging
  • Lab Equipment
  • Car Parts
  • Power Tools
  • Bullet-Proof Materials


*Be aware that #7 has a very low recycling rate. Please check with your local municipality to see what will be accepted.

*Please note that only numbers inside the recycling symbol are valid for recycling.