Plastic Bottle Numbers: What do they Mean?
You've Seen Them for Years, But What's the Deal?
The numbers with the recycling symbol around them on the bottom of plastic bottles are part of the resin identification coding system made by the Society of Plastics Industry. Each number simply tells you what kind of plastic that bottle is made out of. Different numbered bottles are recycled for different uses.
#1 Pet or Pete
Polyethylene terephthanalate, or PET, is usually a clear plastic that is one of the most widely used and most versatile plastics, both in terms of initial use and secondary use after recycled. You'll find #1 plastics on juice bottles, soda bottles, water bottles, and many other items. If you recycle your personal plastics, this bin will often fill up first.
What do they do with #1 plastics once they've been handed over? They are recycled into soft drink bottles and many polyester fibre products. PET plastics are compressed, shredded and sorted, then these flakes are used to make new plastics. According to Wikipedia, "worldwide, approximately 1.5 million tons of PET are collected per year."
#2 Plastics: HDPE
High density polyethylene, the #2 plastics, are commonly used for containers like milk jugs, tyvek, plastic bags, folding chairs and other materials. For the most part, it's a soft plastic. This type of plastic is often recycled to make items like plastic bags, recycling bins, and bottles.
If you're a frequent at recycling centers, these bins are much less full and are not as common as the #1 and #2 plastics. Types 3-7 plastics range from shower curtains to packing peanuts, and all have different rules that must be followed to recycle each one. Since they're made from different materials that may be harmful to consume, these plastics must be separated from the #1's and #2's. If you're curbside pickup won't accept these plastics, you can bring them to your local recycling center to recycle.
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- Reusable Bags
Save some plastic, save some paper. Cut down on your paper and plastic bag use by switching to reusable bags! You'll be reducing our dependence on foreign oil, preventing toxic plastic bag pollution, and saving much needed trees.