Read this guide below to learn the different symbols you see on products and containers! Not only will you know the right way to dispose of plastics, but you’ll have a lower carbon footprint and reduce waste as well!
- PETG or PETE
Also known as PETE, this symbol represents polyethylene terephthalate, which is commonly used for soft drink bottles, mineral water containers, fruit juice containers, and cooking oil containers. The plastic is easily recyclable so it’s often part of curbside recycling programs. It can be reused to make containers, carpet, and furniture.
HDPE indicates one of the most commonly used plastics in the United States, HDPE (which stands for high-density polyethylene). HDPE plastic is used for a number of different purposes but is widely considered the plastic of choice for containers for items like cleaning agents, milk, detergents, and washing soap thanks to its low weight and high strength. HDPE sheets can also be easily recycled into pipes, oil bottles, pens, and detergent bottles. It is commonly accepted by curbside recycling.
PVC or Vinyl Plastic materials that exhibit symbol 3 with the letter “V” represent PVC plastic or polyvinyl chloride. You may come across this plastic in bubble foils, and trays for sweets and fruit. Additionally, expanded PVC foam board is used for a wide variety of commercial applications. Thanks to its lightweight and rigid properties, PVC plastic can be easily stamped, sawed, punched, nailed, riveted, or bonded using PVC adhesive. PVC is rarely recycled and not usually part of a curbside recycling program. In rare instances, it can be recycled for speed bumps, roadway gutters, and cables.
LDPE indicates that the plastic is made from LDPE plastic, which stands for low-density polyethylene. This plastic comes in the form of shopping bags, highly-resistant sacks, and crushed bottles. This type of plastic is not usually recycled, but it can be converted into floor tiles and shipping envelopes.
PP, or polypropylene plastic, , is appropriately marked by the number five symbol including the acronym PP. Thanks to its durability, strength, and low weight, this plastic is utilized in furniture, luggage, toys, and the lining and external borders of cars. This is one of the safer types of plastic making it ideal for ketchup bottles and medicine bottles. It is also increasingly being accepted in curbside recycling programs.
Styrene, or PS Styrene plastic, is commonly used in toys, hard packing, refrigerator trays, cosmetic bags, costume jewelry, CD cases, and vending cups. Although not accepted in many curbside recycling programs, it can be recycled to make egg cartons, take-out containers, and rulers.
Stands for “other plastics,” which include, but are not limited to, acrylic plastic, polycarbonate plastic, polylactic fibers, nylon, and fiberglass. Not every plastic can be recycled. However, both acrylic and polycarbonate can be recycled and can be repurposed for future projects. Since they are both thermoplastics, they can be reheated without a loss in quality. For symbol 7 plastics, be sure to confirm with your local recycling program. There are many use cases for acrylic-–you may be able to find it in use for food storage—many food containers are made of acrylic for their strength and transparency. However, acrylic is also used in signs, shelving, and showcases for its durability.