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Know Your Plastics: Plastic Recycling Guide

Get to know your plastics.
By Brian Clark Howard
September/October 2008
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All plastics are not created equal. If you must buy plastic, use this handy guide from The Daily Green to choose the best type.

Number 1: PET or PETE (Polyethylene terephthalate)
Found in: Soft drink and water bottles, boil-in-bag containers, condiment containers
Recycling: Most curbside recycling programs
Recycled into: Fleece and other fibers, tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling

Number 2: HDPE (High density polyethylene)
Found in: Milk jugs, personal care bottles, trash and shopping bags, butter/yogurt tubs, cereal box liners
Recycling: Most curbside recycling programs
Recycled into: Detergent bottles, pens, floor tile, pipe, lumber, outdoor furniture, fencing

Number 3: V or PVC (Vinyl or polyvinyl chloride)
Found in: Cleaning product bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping
Recycling: Rarely recycled but accepted by some plastic lumber makers
Recycled into: Decks, paneling, mudflaps, gutters, flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats

Number 4: LDPE (Low density polyethylene)
Found in: Grocery bags, dry cleaning bags, squeezable bottles, tote bags, clothing, furniture, carpet
Recycling: Not often recycled through curbside programs; shopping bags can be recycled through many stores
Recycled into: Trash cans/liners, compost bins, shipping envelopes, lumber, landscaping, tile
 
Number 5:
PP (Polypropylene)
Found in: Syrup/ketchup bottles, yogurt containers, drink lids, caps and straws, medicine bottles
Recycling: Recycled through some curbside programs
Recycled into: Streetlights, battery cables, brooms, rakes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, bins

Number 6: PS (Polystyrene)
Found in: Disposable dishes, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, medicine bottles, CD cases
Recycling: Recycled through some curbside programs
Recycled into: Insulation, light-switch plates, egg cartons, rulers, foam packing, carry-out containers

Number 7: (Miscellaneous, including polycarbonate)
Found in: “Bullet-proof” materials, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod/computer cases, signs and displays, food containers, nylon
Recycling: Traditionally not recycled; some curbside programs now take them
Recycled into: Plastic lumber,  custom-made products








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