So you have the best intention to reduce, reuse, and recycle – that’s great ! The War with plastic waste requires not only continuous effort but also the right knowledge of knowing what can and can’t be recycled.
Most people know the little triangle symbol at the bottom of plastic bottles means ‘recycle’. What they don’t know is just because it has a triangle on the bottom, doesn’t always mean it can be recycled. Those little triangles with numbers moulded onto the plastic are Resin Identification codes (RIC). This identifies the different types of plastic used to make the product.
Plastic is a synthetic material made from a range of polymers meaning it is mouldable and can be shaped. There are more than 7 different types of plastics but the six common types have been given codes which help identify them for recycling. Here are list of what you can and can’t recycle:
#1. PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)
One of the most commonly used plastics in the world and is used to make things like soft bottle drinks, vegetable oil bottles and containers for food and drink. The same polymer is also used for fabrics and is know as polyester used in clothes, carpets and other textiles.
#2. HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)
This kind of plastic is usually colored or opaque and can be found in milk jugs and detergent or household cleaner bottles. HDPE can easily be recycled into plastic lumber, more bottles or drainage pipes and is considered one of the safest forms of plastic.
#3. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
Found in shampoo bottles, medical plastics, some toys (including toys for dog) and window trim, this plastic is typically not used for household items that can be consumed as it can contain phthalates. PVC is usually recycled into paneling, flooring, cables and decks.
#4. LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)
Bottles you can squeeze like shampoo or condiment bottles are made from LDPE. A lot of recycling centers do not accept LDPE. LDPE can be recycled into more bags or trash liners and floor tiles.
#5. PP (Polypropylene)
PP is durable and versatile. This is usually found in medical bottles, yogurt tubs, cereal box liners, bottle caps, some ropes and condiment bottles. PP can be recycled into brushes, battery cases and bike racks.
#6. PS (Polystyrene)
Polystyrene is an inexpensive, lightweight and easily-formed plastic with a wide variety of uses. Commonly referred to as 'styrofoam' and very few recycling programs accept. Styrofoam” is part of a longer list of recycling contaminates and these unaccepted materials do more harm than good
The #7 category was designed as a catch-all for polycarbonate (PC) and “other” plastics, so reuse and recycling protocols are not standardised within this category (BPA, LEXAN, etc) This is a mixed bag of plastics. It includes things like baby bottles and 5 gallon water jugs.
We have broken it down to make it easy for you to get recycling right. Share your recycling tips/hacks below !
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