HomElectrical's Guide to Plastic Recycling

By Danielle Abram on 04/16/2018

Recycling Chart by Number

When recycling, people don't seem to pay much attention to which plastics can and cannot be recycled or how waste management works. Just because an item is plastic, or has plastic properties, does not mean that it is easily recyclable.

Not only is the number in the recycling triangle ignored, but people don't think twice about what they are throwing away. Here are some of the do's and don'ts in the recycling world and an explanation of what the plastic recycling numbers mean.


Polyethylene Terephthalate

 Recyclables for PETEPETE is BPA free and one of the most commonly recycled categories containing: soda bottles, water bottles, and even some packaging plastics. Items recycled in this category are intended to be single use products.

If used more, plastic bottle recycling may increase the risk of leaching and bacterial growth after it has been recycled; especially for water bottle recycling. For these items, the plastic is crushed, shredded, and then reprocessed to make new PETE bottles.

Recycle 1 products can also be spun into polyester fiber, which is used for stuffing of pillows or other products, fleeces, carpets, and more.

High Density Polyethylene

Recyclables for HDPEThis is the MOST COMMON category that people recycle product. HDPE is BPA free and is made up of milk jugs, detergent bottles, oil bottles, toys, and plastic bags.

HDPEs are considered one of the safest forms of plastic recycling and can be made into picnic tables, plastic lumber, waste bins, park benches, and other products that require durability and weather resistance.

Polyvinyl Chloride

 Recyclables for PVCPVCs are soft and flexible plastics that are usually clear plastic food wrappings, cooling oil bottles, teething rings, pet and child toys, and more. This is considered a “poison plastic” because it contains leaching toxins.

When these recycled materials are reused, they can be made into sheathing products, such as plastic pipes, parts for plumbing, window frames, garden hoses, cables, or arbors.


Low Density Polyethylene

 Recyclables for LDPEMost times, LDPE plastics are products such as shrink wraps, dry cleaner bags, grocery bags, bread bags, or squeezable bottles. These plastics are less toxic than others and are BPA free, which makes them relatively safe for use and re-use.

Often, these materials are made into plastic lumber, landscaping boards, garbage liners, and floor tiles.

Plastic bag recycling and reusing is encouraged!


 Recyclables for PPBeing heat resistant, PP plastics are tough and lightweight. They often have a barrier against grease, moisture, and other chemicals and can only be recycled in certain areas so find a plastic recycling area near you that qualifies! 

The recycle 5 category usually consists of disposable diapers, cereal liners, pails, bottle tops, chip bags, margarine and yogurt containers, straws, packing tape, and rope.


 Recyclables for PSSTAY AWAY FROM THESE PLASTICS! Though these plastics are inexpensive, lightweight, and easily formed, they break up easily and disperse into natural environments which is unhealthy, esentially making them non-recycable.

Recycling companies warn people to stay away from these toxins because their diposal is tricky! This AVOIDED category includes styrofoam, take out containers, egg cartons, CDs, egg cartons, packing peanuts, home construction, and more.


 Recyclables for OTHERWith all OTHER plastics, the reuse and recycle protocol is not standard. There is more potential for chemical leaking into food and drinks and can ONLY BE REUSED if marked PLA in this category.

The recycle 6 products include baby bottles, sippy cups, water cooler bottles, car parts, and other dangerous plastics.


Overall, recycling can be incredibly beneficial. Finding your local recycling companies and recycling centers will help you in taking the best steps towards helping with waste managemnet. You have to make an effort to help reuse and recycle to help save the environment with waste recycling!

Sorted Recycling

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