Recycling Resource - Plastic Recyling and Recycling Plastic Bottles and Products


Consumers that are interested in recycling plastic products should learn how to identify the different types of plastics that can be recycled. In 1988 the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) developed a uniform coding system for consumers and manufacturers to help identify various types of plastics for recycling. A triangle recycling symbol and a single-digit numbering system, ranging from 1 to 7 was created to differentiate various types of plastics for recycling.

Currently, the SPI uniform coding system is used in 39 states in the U.S., and the recycling symbol is imprinted on the bottom of nearly all plastic containers ranging from eight-ounces to five-gallon containers. Consumers will be able to easily distinguish the type of plastic that a container is made of using the SPI uniform coding system for plastic recycling.

Getting To Know SPI Uniform Coding System

The following assigned numbers represent the SPI uniform coding system for recycling plastic bottles and recycling plastic products. When sorting plastic bottles and containers for a recycling facility, make certain that you check the bottom of each item for the triangle recycling symbol. Then separate each item, according to the number that is shown inside the arrows on the triangle symbol.

    1. This number represents plastic that is made of polyethylene terephthalate (PETE). Water, soda and juice bottles with this number can be recycled into fiberfill for items such as coats, jackets and sleeping bags.

    2. Plastics that are considered high-density polyethylene use this number. Containers that are used to hold laundry detergents, bleaches, motor oil, and shampoo can be recycled into toys, rope, and plastic lumber.

    3. Plastics that are made of polyvinyl chloride are considered less common, and items such as plastic pipes, shower curtains, medical tubing and vinyl dashboards are assigned this number.

    4. Low-density polyethylene that is used for items such as wrapping film, and sandwich bags are often assigned this number.

    5. Polypropylene containers, such as Tupperware usually have a low recyclability rate and some recycling facilities may not accept these items for plastic recycling.

    6. Items that contain polystyrene (Styrofoam), like coffee cups, plastic cutlery, meat trays, and packing “peanuts” can be recycled into various items, such as cassette tapes and foam insulation.

    7. Plastics that has this number or none at all, are the most difficult to recycle and some recycling facilities may not accept these items for plastic recycling.