Plastic is everywhere. It is used in everything from our carpeting to our cars to our containers and packaging. Many plastics can be recycled, but it can be confusing to make sense of the various kinds and all rules that apply to recycling them.
Many plastics will show a number, which represents the chemical resin it is made from. However, not all numbers guarantee that they can be recycled.
Here's your guide to plastics #1-7:
#1 PETE (Polyethylene terephthalate). Found in plastic soda bottles. Most curbside programs will pick up this plastic. Usually recycled into: polar fleece, fiber, tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling, straps and sometimes new containers.
#2 HDPE (high-density polyethylene). Found in milk and water jugs, detergent and toiletries bottles, and butter tubs. This plastic is usually picked up by most curbside programs. Recycled into: laundry detergent bottles, oil bottles, pens, recycling containers, floor tile, drainage pipe, lumber, benches, doghouses, picnic tables and fencing.
#3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Found in food wraps, bottles for cooking oil, and plumbing pipes. This kind of plastic is rarely picked up but can be accepted by plastic lumber makers. Can be recycled into: decks, paneling, mud flaps, roadway gutters, flooring, cables, speed bumps and mats.
#4 LDPE (low-density polyethylene). Found in grocery bags, some food wraps, squeezable bottles and bread bags. This is not often recycled through curbside programs, however some communities will accept it. It can be recycled into: trash can liners and cans, compost bins, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, landscaping ties and floor tile.
#5 (polypropylene). Found in yogurt cups and similar containers, medicine bottles, ketchup, syrup bottles and straws. Recycled through some curbside programs. It can be recycled into: signal lights, battery cables, brooms, brushes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, rakes, bins, pallets and trays.
#6 (polystyrene). This is Styrofoam and used for disposable plates and cups. This is usually not picked up by curbside programs.
#7 (miscellaneous). Found in: three- and five-gallon water bottles, "bulletproof" materials, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and computer cases, signs and displays, certain food containers and nylon. Unfortunately not many of these plastics are recycled in curbside pickup programs.