Recycling Plastic 101


I used to get so mad at my roommate because she would always put plastic in the recycling bin. I consider myself an avid recycler and an environmentalist but I didn’t know you could recycle plastic! Let alone that there are numerous variations of plastic (many NOT recyclable but some are!) Those some are the ones labeled with a 1-6 and the chasing arrow recycling symbol on your plastic. What do these numbers mean? I’m glad you asked, I was wondering too. I provided the acronyms below as well as the items typically associated with this kind of plastic.

Plastic No. 1 PET -- YES, Recycle
Peanut butter jars, soda and water bottles

Plastic No. 2 HDPE -- YES, Recycle
Milk jugs, laundry detergent, motor oil bottles and butter containers

Plastic No. 3 PVC -- YES, Recycle
PVC pipes, shampoo bottles, cooking oil and window cleaner

Plastic No. 4 LDPE -- YES, Recycle
Grocery bags, bread bags, many plastic bags

Note* this kind of plastic can only be reused to make more plastic bags, which we really don’t need more of

Plastic No. 5 PP -- YES, Recycle
Yogurt containers, straws, ketchup containers, syrup and medicine bottles

Plastic No. 6 PS -- YES, Recycle
Egg cartons, disposable take out containers and packing peanuts

Plastic No. 7 Other -- NO, Can’t recycle
Since this is usually a mix of many types of plastic it can’t be recycled unfortunately.

Plastic should be the last choice as a consumer. If you’re able to get paper, or another environmentally friendly substance choose it. While we do live in a plastic world, you can do your part by recycling what can be recycled and avoiding the rest. It also should be mentioned that what kind of plastic can be recycled varies by state, so make sure you do your research before you start attempting to recycle all kinds of plastic. If your state doesn’t recycle all types of plastic, do your part to advocate that they should! We don’t need any more plastic in our oceans or anywhere else in the atmosphere.

Information cited from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation