HomElectrical's Guide to Plastic Recycling

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 PETE

PETE 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 HDPE

This 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


PVCs 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 LDPE

Most 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 PP

Being 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 PS

STAY 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, essentially making them non-recyclable.

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, packing peanuts, home construction, and more.


 Recyclables for OTHER

With 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 management. You have to make an effort to help reuse and recycle to help save the environment with waste recycling!

Recommended Reading

Help save the planet with energy saving tips! Use reusable grocery bags, switch from incandescent to LED lighting, and a few other ideas.

Zero waste living presents many challenges but ultimately benefits the environment. When beginning your journey to a zero-waste lifestyle, make sure to stay prepared with these tips.

No matter the type of light bulb, they all need replacing eventually. See which light bulbs can be thrown out and which ones require recycling as well as where you can take them!

Danielle Abram
Danielle Abram

Danielle is a classic wordsmith and unapologetic user of the Oxford comma. Her experience includes blog posts, technical copy, social media copy, email marketing, product descriptions, scripts, and so much more. In other words, there's no limit to what she can write about!

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