Plastic Recycling.. It’s a numbers game!

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Have you ever looked at your plastics to recycle and wondered what the number meant?? You aren’t the only one. While plastic recycling varies from state to state, the plastic recycling numbers that identify each type of plastic have remained the same. 

In the late 90’s the Society of plastic engineers (trust me, we won’t get too scientific here!) coded different types of plastic for recycling purposes. These plastic recycling numbers are the resin identification codes, which describe the polymer (molecule) type or type of plastic and what it can be used for. The rating system goes from 1- 7.


Here is the lowdown of what the Plastic Recycling Numbers:

PET 1:Polyethylene Terephthalate; can be used for liquid bottles, like water or soft drinks, or peanut butter jars

PE-HD 2: High Density Polyethylene; can be used for milk or juice bottles or trash bags

PVC 3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC); can be used for PVC piping, juice bottles or cling wrap

PE-LD 4: Low Density Polyethylene; can be used for flexible items, like freezer bags, flexible lids, or squeezable bottles

PP 5: Polypropylene; can be used for microwavable disposable wares like storage or takeout, disposable cups and plates, and yogurt containers

PS 6: Polystyrene; can be used for packing peanuts, egg cartons or disposable cutlery

O 7: Other plastic types, like polycarbonate or ABS; can be use for electronic casing or beverage bottles

The plastic recycling numbers let you know what can be recycled. Unfortunately, not all plastics are recycled by your local center. Make sure to contact your local recycling center to find out what can be recycled. can help you locate your local center. If your recycling facility only accepts certain types of plastics, refer to the plastic recycling numbers on the item to to sort the appropriate and recyclable plastics. This will help the recycling center from having to sort all of the plastics, which will then only be taken to a landfill, as we all know nothing is ever truly throw away.

What does the number mean to you or your family? There are certain plastics that you will want to pay attention to, such as # 2, 4 and 5 which are the safest. Generally, number 1 is also considered safe. EcoSavvyMoms is now doing research to bring you updates to the plastics debates.. and once we have our information confirmed will pass it along to our readers.  Until then, happy sorting!

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Written By :

Amy Sorter is the co-founder of She spent 10 years in marketing and sales for Fortune 500 companies before deciding to dust off her Journalism degree and try to do something that makes a difference in the World. She is a mother, animal rights activist and is passionate about preserving our environment.       From an early age my mother taught me about living green. She... Read More

has written 48 articles


  • Anonymous

    It is not just paper products that can be reused or recycled – even plastic as well as old electronic gadgets. Our computer hard drives, microchips or paper documents can be shredded to be used for other purposes. Aside from that, plastic items that we have at home or at work can be recycled – we just need to be properly informed with regards to which type of plastic is safe to be reused or recycled.
    I also read another article on recycling that other readers might also find interesting at:
    We are fortunate to be given this kind of information so that we will be able to learn more about recycling and probably educate others on what to do with their used items. Buying brand new items all the time is wasteful and we already have problems on waste accumulation in land fills. What we need are practical solutions on how we can take part in the conservation of our natural resources. It takes hundreds of years for plastic to decompose and so we must act now and reuse or recycle what we can – safely.

  • los altos plumbing

    Wow what great blog it is! Some quality articles I don’t see everyday!

  • J. Rivers

    There is a great article I read years ago, succinctly detailing the health issues associated with the different types of plastic. Here is the link:

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