With all the different types of plastic packaging in use today, it can be tricky to know exactly what you can and can’t toss in the blue bin…but, there are ways! On most plastic jars, containers, and other packaging there’s a recycling logo on the label or it’s stamped right into the plastic. Look for a triangular Mobius loop (the recycling logo) with a number in the centre. This logo is a resin code and identifies what type of plastic you have.
Importance of Recycling System Resin Codes
The plastic containers in your bin may look alike but they’re not all the same, and some are easier to recycle than others. Each resin type, numbering from 1 to 7, is made of very specific chemical molecules. Some resins mix well together, while others are more like oil and water.
This recycling system, implemented by the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI) implemented in 1988 allows for better sorting of different plastics. Generally speaking, plastics using resin numbers 1 and 2 can be placed in your curbside bin. However, plastic items numbering 3 to 7 may or may not be accepted. The recycling rules around these types vary in communities across the country.
It’s very important to your community’s recycling program to recycle only those items that are accepted and nothing more. Adding plastic products that cannot be recycled in your blue bin will only muck up the system. Keep this glossary on your fridge, family communication board or on your inside recycling bin to stay in the know:
Glossary of Plastic Resin Codes
1 – PETE – Polyethylene Terephthalate
Soda bottles, water bottles, and many common food packages.
2 – HDPE – High-density Polyethylene
Detergent bottles, bleach, milk containers, hair care products, and motor oil.
3 – PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride
Pipes, toys, furniture, and packaging.
4 – LDPE Low-density Polyethylene
Cling wrap, grocery bags, and sandwich bags.
5 – PP – Polypropylene
Clothing, bottles, tubs, and ropes.
6 – PS – Polystyrene
Styrofoam cups, foam food trays, packing peanuts.
7 – Other
It could be a mixture of any and all of the above or plastics not readily recyclable such as polyurethane.
PRO TIP: Check your community’s waste management webpage or give them a call. You may find your community has a waste management app that will clearly tell you what can be recycled or a simple cheat sheet that can be printed off for quick reference.
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