Plastics

Did You Know
Did you know?
Five recycled soft drink bottles makes enough fiberfill for a man’s ski jacket. Thirty-six recycled bottles can make one square yard of carpet.

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There are 7 types of plastics that are identified by a Society of Plastics Industry (SPI) code number ranging from 1 to 7. These numbers are usually found on the bottom of plastic containers inside a three-arrow recycling symbol. A description of each kind of plastic is presented below. Also, you can check with the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) at 800-2-HELP-90 for information about haulers/recyclers in your area. Some recyclers only accept a sub-category of the ones presented below. For example, a recycler might only accept HDPE milk jugs and not all HDPE products.

PET (SPI = 1)

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most readily recyclable material at this time. It includes 1- and 2- liter clear soda bottles, as well as some bottles containing liquor, liquid cleaners, detergents, and antacids.

HDPE (SPI = 2)

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is currently recyclable in some areas. This class includes milk, juice, and water jugs, base cups for some plastic soda bottles, as well as bottles for laundry detergent, fabric softener, lotion, motor oil, and antifreeze.

PVC (SPI = 3)

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC, also referred to simply as “vinyl”) includes bottles for cooking oil, salad dressing, floor polish, mouthwash, and liquor, as well as “blister packs” used for batteries and other hardware and toys.

LDPE (SPI = 4)

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) includes grocery bags, bread bags, trash bags, and a variety of other film products. LDPE is currently being recycled by some of the major retail chains.

Polypropylene (SPI = 5)

Polypropylene includes a wide variety of packaging such as yogurt containers, shampoo bottles, and margarine tubs. Also cereal box liners, rope and strapping, combs, and battery cases.

Polystyrene (SPI = 6)

Polystyrene includes Styrofoam coffee cups, food trays, and “clamshell” packaging, as well as some yogurt tubs, clear carry-out containers, and plastic cutlery. Foam applications are sometimes called EPA, or Expanded Polystyrene. Some recycling of polystyrene is taking place, but is limited by it low weight-to-volume ration and its value as a commodity.

Other (SPI = 7)

Can refer to application which use some of the above six resins in combination or to the collection of the individual resins as mixed plastic (e.g., camera film can include several types of plastic resins). Technology exists to make useful items such as plastic “lumber” our of mixed plastic resins, but generally the materials are more useful and valuable is separated into the generic resin types described above.