Stop for a second and look around. How many items are plastic? Plastic is everywhere and no more visible then in the products we consume and use in life on a daily basis. The EPA estimates that Americans throw away approximately 2.5 million plastic bottles per hour. Really? According to the EPA plastic is the most disposable material today. The good news is that you can divert that plastic from the landfill and help to give it a new life! Pick up any plastic and you will see on the bottom of most consumer plastics a small number from 1 to 7, enclosed by a triangle of arrows. This symbol was designed by The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) to make it easy to identify types of plastics used in manufacturing with a standard coding system. I have listed each number, where you can find it and what the old plastic can be recycled into.
# 1 PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate)
Found In: Soft drinks, water and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers
Recycled Into: Polar fleece, fiber, tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling, straps, (occasionally) new containers
# 2 Plastics — HDPE (high density polyethylene)
Found In: Milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box liners
Recycled Into: Laundry detergent bottles, oil bottles, pens, recycling containers, floor tile, drainage pipe, lumber, benches, doghouses, picnic tables, fencing
# 3 Plastics — V (Vinyl) or PVC
Found In: Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping
Recycled Into: Decks, paneling, mudflaps, roadway gutters, flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats
PVC contains chlorine, so its manufacture can release highly dangerous dioxins. If you must cook with PVC, don’t let the plastic touch food. Never burn PVC, because it releases toxins.
# 4 Plastics — LDPE (low density polyethylene)
Found In: Squeezable bottles; bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags; tote bags; clothing; furniture; carpet
Recycled Into: Trash can liners and cans, compost bins, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, landscaping ties, floor tile
# 5 Plastics — PP (polypropylene)
Found In: Some yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws, medicine bottles
Recycled Into: Signal lights, battery cables, brooms, brushes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, rakes, bins, pallets, trays
Polypropylene has a high melting point, and so is often chosen for containers that must accept hot liquid.
# 6 Plastics — PS (polystyrene)
Found In: Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases
Recycled Into: Insulation, light switch plates, egg cartons, vents, rulers, foam packing, carry-out containers
Polystyrene can be made into rigid or foam products — in the latter case it is popularly known as the trademark Styrofoam. Evidence suggests polystyrene can leach potential toxins into foods. The material was long on environmentalists’ hit lists for dispersing widely across the landscape, and for being notoriously difficult to recycle.
# Plastics — Miscellaneous
Found In: Three- and five-gallon water bottles, ‘bullet-proof’ materials, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and computer cases, signs and displays, certain food containers, nylon
Recycled Into: Plastic lumber, custom-made products
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that in the United States, each person generates 4.5 pounds of solid waste each day! When you think of how much garbage all the world’s families and businesses create, it’s easy to understand that there is just too much waste for our landfills to handle.
Recycling helps extend the life and usefulness of something that has already served its initial purpose by producing something that is useable. Recycling also reduces the amount of trash we throw into the landfills.
So the next time you hold an empty plastic item, do not throw it in the trash. Throw it into the recycling bucket and be part of the solution!!
Yes you can make a difference!! Think Green!!