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Can Plastic Be Recycled?

Last Updated: December 20, 2023

Can Plastic Be Recycled?

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Plastic is something we encounter in everyday items like water bottles, combs, and beverage containers. If you want to be more eco-friendly with your choices, understanding the different types of plastic and their SPI codes can make a real difference.

According to the EPA,

“In 2018, plastics generation was 35.7 million tons in the United States, which was 12.2 percent of MSW generation.”

For the sake of the environment, it's important to know the different plastic types and their uses, as well as the resin identification codes on them. In this article, I'm going to explain the different types of plastic, and which types you can recycle.

What Are Resin Identification Codes?

The resin identification code was created so workers in the plastic and recycling industry could sort and recycle plastics more efficiently. Each RIC corresponds to a specific type of resin used in a plastic product. The resin is usually defined between 1-7, and the relevant number appears in the center of the arrows on the label that is placed on the plastic product.

What Are the Different Types of Plastic?

Plastics are categorized into seven standard classifications based on their resin content.

Label #1: PET (polyethylene terephthalate)

This type is mostly found in water and beverage bottles. It’s hard to de-contaminate. Proper cleaning releases some harmful chemicals, like DEHA.

Label #2: HDPE (high-density polyethylene)

This type is found in milk, detergent, oil bottles, toys, and plastic bags. This is one of the safest forms of plastic.

Label #3: PVC (vinyl/polyvinyl chloride)

This type is found in food wraps, food oil bottles, teething rings, pet toys, and blister packaging. This produces toxins from manufacture through disposal. When using this type of plastic, you should avoid using it in the microwave.

Label #4: LDPE (low-density polyethylene)

This type is found in shrink wraps, garment bags, squeezable bottles, furniture, and plastic bags. This type is less toxic than the other plastics.

Label #5: PP (polypropylene)

This type is found in bottle tops, disposable diapers, medicine, syrup bottles, drinking straws, carpeting, bags, food wraps, yogurt, and margarine containers. This type is considered one of the safest.

Label #6: PS (polystyrene)

This type is found in plastic cutlery, foam packaging, egg cartons, and take-out containers. This type could potentially leak into food products.

Label #7: OTHER (LEXAN, polycarbonate, bisphenol A)

This type is usually layered or mixed plastics.

Can Plastic Be Recycled?

Most of the plastic we use in daily life is recyclable. However, there are some types that can’t be recycled. Here is a list of each plastic type, and whether it can be recycled.

An infographic on can plastic be recycled
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1. PET

Recyclable. This is the most widely recycled plastic in the world.

2. HDPE

Recyclable. This plastic is accepted at most of the recycling centers in the world. It is also one of the easiest plastic polymers to recycle. According to the EPA,

“The recycling rate for HDPE natural bottles were 29.3% in 2018.”

3. PP

Recyclable. While PP is one of the most popular packaging materials in the world, only around 1-3% is recycled. Most polypropylene ends up at a landfill where it takes 20-30 years to completely decompose.

4. LDPE

Recyclable. LDPE can be recycled, but you may have to check with your local authority to ensure it can be recycled in your areas.

5. PVC

Not Recyclable. PVC has a high percentage of toxic chemicals, which makes it not recyclable in normal collections. This type of plastic releases toxins that could cause respiratory problems when ingested.

6. PS

Not Recyclable. PS is not recyclable in normal collections. Like PVC, this type of plastic has a high percentage of toxic chemicals that could pose health hazards.

7. OTHER

Not Recyclable. OTHER plastics are not recyclable in normal collections.

Why is Being Aware of Proper Plastic Disposal Important?

According to plasticoceans.org,

“Less than 9% of all plastic gets recycled.”

Recycling helps prevent pollution. It also reduces the need to harvest new raw materials, saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, helps save money, and allows products to be used to their full extent. By taking the necessary steps to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic, we can help reduce the negative impacts of plastic pollution and create a more sustainable future.

Help Protect the Environment by Renting a Roll Off Dumpster

Here at Discount Dumpster, we are avid supporters of environmental awareness, sustainability, and community enrichment. For every dumpster rented, we pledge to plant one tree to help curb the carbon footprint from hauling trucks. We believe waste management means more than just collecting and dumping trash.

Waste management should also include reducing the amount of trash we generate year after year. We believe individuals and businesses can do their part to keep the planet clean and healthy for many years to come.

Call to Drop a Line on an Environmental Effort! - (888) 316-7010

About Taylor Grenko

Hi, I'm Taylor! I have years of experience in providing valuable content for many different niches. Recently my knowledge has expanded into waste management as a writer for Discount Dumpster. Follow my posts to learn along with me!

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