In order to recycle properly, it is important to familiarize yourself with common recycling codes.
Recycling codes or Resin identification codes as they are technically called are used to identify the material/plastic resins from which a plastic product is made. And while the presence of a recycling code on an item does not automatically mean that the material is recyclable, recycling codes help to facilitate easier sorting at source and recycling.
Below are some common recycling codes to get you started on your sustainable waste management journey.
1. PET (POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE)
Water bottles and plastic soda bottles are the most common containers made out of PET. PET plastics are mostly lightweight and easy to recycle. Hence they are collected by most recycling collection schemes including ours at ecobarter
PET products, especially when in use for food or beverage packaging are mostly designed for single-use.
2. HDPE (HIGH-DENSITY POLYETHYLENE)
Most milk jugs, detergent containers, and oil bottles are made from HDPE. It’s a very common plastic and one of the safest to use. It’s also fully recyclable.
3. PVC (POLYVINYL CHLORIDE)
Like most plastic materials, PVC is versatile and has a wide range of use. PVC is mostly used in drainage pipes, window frames, water pipes, medical devices, wire insulation, vinyl records, flooring, roofing membranes, and in more flexible applications such as clothing, synthetic leather, and cling film.
PVC plastics are collected in select community recycling centers. Kindly confirm from your recycling collector before sorting for recycling.
4. LDPE (LOW-DENSITY POLYETHYLENE)
LDPE is most commonly used in plastic bags. Other applications include; dispenser bottles, wash bottles, and packaging foams. LDPE plastics are also widely collected in community recycling centers
5. PP (POLYPROPYLENE)
PP plastics have high heat resistance and are made rigid. They are commonly used to make medical and laboratory equipment, carpets, and rugs. They are great for use in plastic moldings like chairs, lids to packaging containers made of other types of plastics like PET or LDPE, and fittings. PP plastics are also commonly used as sheets such as stationery folders. It is also used in non-woven fabrics for use in diapers and other sanitary products.
When used in rigid and molded forms, PP plastic products are highly recyclable and collected by most community recycling collection centers. However, PP plastics used in sheets, or fabric applications are mostly non-recyclable.
6. PS (POLYSTYRENE)
Polystyrene is one of the most widely used plastics. It is mostly used in disposable cutlery and tableware as well as protective packagings like jewelry cases and CDs.
PS plastics are difficult to recycle and not collected by most community recycling schemes. Because most PS plastics products break apart easily and are designed for single-use, they are notorious for marine pollution and consumers are discouraged from using them.
7. POLYCARBONATE, BPA, AND OTHER PLASTICS
These include plastics, such as acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate, and polylactic acid, and multilayer combinations of different plastics. They are generally non-recyclable. Common products made from these plastics include automotive headlight lenses, safety goggles, and lumber plastics.
Recycling codes are placed mostly at the bottom of plastic containers like bottles and food packs, however, some products carry their recycling codes on the sides. To know more about recycling codes and recyclability of your material check here
For other non-plastic household materials, use Ecobarter’s Recycling Dictionary to know which material to recycle or not.