If you’ve ever looked at the labels on your recyclable plastics, you’ve probably noticed that they display different numbers from 1 to 7. What you might not know, however, is what those numbers actually mean. Well, wonder no more. Here’s everything you need to know about the numbers located inside the recycling logo.

What are the plastics numbers 1 to 7 about?

The numbers found on your recyclable plastics are resin identification codes. Their main function is to separate different types of plastics in a clear and concise manner so that workers at recycling plants know how each product should be processed. As a consumer, those numbers confirm which plastics will be recycled and which will end up in a landfill. In turn, this can help you make smarter purchases and handle your trash in the right manner.

Resin identification codes explained

The resin identification codes found on various recyclable plastics are as follows:

No.1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE)

Polyethylene terephthalate is the most commonly recycled plastic of all. It is the type of plastic used for water bottles, peanut bottle jars, microwaveable food trays, and more. While it can be recycled, this type of plastic should not be reused as the porous attributes allow harmful chemicals to enter your food and drink.

No 2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

High-density polyethylene is a plastic that is most frequently found in milk cartons and household cleaner bottles. We often recycle end of life plastic pallets, utility pipes, crates, boxes, and household containers. The recycled pellet of HDPE plastic waste is in regular demand from manufacturers. This particular plastic is very easy to recycle.

No 3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) 

Polyvinyl chloride, more commonly referred to as PVC, is used in a range of items such as guttering, downpipe, window frames, and electrical conduit. Whilst PVC used to get a bad reputation for recycling (mainly to do with the recycling market in the far east, we have an ongoing demand for end of like PVC. uPVC window frames are particularly good for recycling as all aspects of the frame have a recycling option. PVC guttering and downpipe can be made from recycled PVC pulver, these particular items are in strong demand from the construction industry worldwide.

No 4: Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Low-density polyethylene is often used in carrier bags and other lightweight wraps as well as soft bottles. Shrinkwrap, agricultural plastic, and bags are often recycled by our company. We work with various sectors including retailers, manufacturers and the recycling sector. Whilst clean waste LDPE is very easy to recycle with the right equipment, contaminated LDPE can be more difficult. 

No 5: Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene is found in food tubs, microwaveable containers, and condiment bottles. It is a heat resistant plastic that is considered a safe plastic and is accepted by most recycling schemes. Recycled PP plastic is in regular demand from manufacturers to make a variety of different items. One of the best uses of PP recycled plastic we've seen is to make recycling containers for households!

No 6: Polystyrene (PS)

Polystyrene, also known as styrofoam, is commonly used in disposable containers as well as some food packaging types. Expanded polystyrene is also recyclable, this is the lightweight white material you'll often find used for packaging. 

No 7: Plastic Number Seven

Plastic number seven is a term used to cover all other types of plastic, now including bioplastics. Other plastic types include acrylics and plastics such as polycarbonate. Some of these are commonly recycled and others are not. If your business has any questions about recycling particular plastic items, you can contact us here.