By the Numbers
- Plastic containers are labeled with a numbering system from one to seven. This denotes the different type of plastic that makes up the container and how it can be re-used. The most commonly recycled plastics are polyethylene terephthalate (PETE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE).
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE)
- This plastic is labeled as #1 and is readily recyclable. Used in single-use and 2-liter soda bottles, as well as containers for peanut butter, salad dressing and cooking oil, this plastic is recycled into polar fleece, carpet and new containers.
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
- This plastic is labeled as #2 and is commonly used for milk jugs and containers for juice, shampoo, cleaning products, butter and yogurt. This plastic is reused to manufacture pens, flooring, fencing and bottles or containers for products other than food.
Find a Facility
- Determine what types of plastic your curb-side program will accept. Most programs accept plastics #1 and #2. Depending on local facilities, some will accept the other types of plastic as well, but verify this before adding these containers to your recycling bin. Plastics that are collected but cannot be recycled at a facility are often thrown away, which defeats the purpose of recycling.
For plastics #3 through #7, check for other drop-off locations if your curb-side program can't accept them.
To find a recycling location near you, check the Earth911.com website: http://earth911.com/
Preparation for Recycling
- First, remove all labels and lids or caps. Caps cannot be recycled in the same way as plastic containers because they are made from a different type of plastic. Some companies are beginning campaigns to recycle caps, however. For one solution, go to the Aveda website to learn about their program: http://aveda.aveda.com/aboutaveda/caps.asp
Rinse the container thoroughly and let it dry. Make sure to remove all bits of food. Place it in your recycling bin to await collection.
Some curb-side programs will not accept plastic grocery bags because they are so lightweight that they stick to the inside of the collection trucks or blow away during the collection process. Many grocery stores offer a collection bin for bags. Check your store to see if it offers this service.