Everything you Need to Know to Recycle like a Pro!




It feels like everything these days is made of plastic. It’s in our cars, toys, packaging, clothes, home goods, food utensils — but it's also littering our streets, clogging our waterways, and choking marine life. In fact, one 2020 study found that every day around 8 million pieces of plastic make their way into our oceans. 




Many plastics can be readily recycled, but the world produces 381 billion tonnes of plastic waste yearly and only 9% ever gets recycled. With all the different rules and symbols, it can be confusing what each plastic recycling symbol means and how to recycle it. While the universal plastic symbol remains the same, the specific numbers (one through seven) can make a significant difference. FYI: Just because a product has the chasing arrows symbol, doesn't mean it's recyclable — it's just an indicator of the type of plastic.

How to know what plastics can be recycled.

Every town and city has different recycling programs, so you'll often have to check your location's rules to find out exactly what you can recycle. Even if there isn't a way for your town to recycle a certain material, there's still a chance they might collect it anyways and either store it or dispose of it. 

Of course, the symbols themselves need explaining, too. Here's what each plastic recycling symbol means, along with examples it's found in and how to recycle it.

Plastic Recycling Symbol #1: PET or PETE

PET or polyethylene terephthalate is the most common plastic for single-use bottles. It poses low risk of leaching breakdown products. Its recycling rates remain relatively low (around 20%), even though the material is in high demand by manufacturers.

Found in: Soft drinks, water, ketchup, and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers

How to recycle it: PET can be picked up by most curbside recycling programs as long as it's been emptied and rinsed off. When it comes to caps, it’s better to dispose of them in the trash (since they're usually made of a different type of plastic), unless your town explicitly says you can throw them in the recycle bin. There's no need to remove bottle labels because the recycling process separates them.




Plastic Recycling Symbol #2: HDPE

HDPE or high-density polyethylene is a versatile plastic, especially when it comes to packaging. It carries low risk of leaching and is readily recyclable into many types of goods.

Found in: Milk jugs; juice bottles; bleach, detergent, and other household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box liners

How to recycle it: HDPE can be picked up through most curbside programs, although some allow only containers with necks. Flimsy plastics (like grocery bags and plastic wrap) usually can't be recycled, but some stores will collect and recycle them. 

Plastic Recycling Symbol #3: PVC or V

PVC or polyvinyl chloride and V or vinyl is tough and weathers well, so it's commonly used for things like piping and siding. PVC is cheap, so it's found in plenty of products and packaging. Because chlorine is part of PVC, it can result in the release of highly dangerous dioxins during manufacturing. Remember to never burn PVC, because it releases toxins.

Found in: Shampoo and cooking oil bottles, blister packaging, wire jacketing, siding, windows, and piping.

How to recycle it: PVC and V can rarely be recycled, but it's accepted by some plastic lumber makers. If you need to dispose of either material, ask your local waste management to see if you should put it in the trash or drop it off at a collection center.

Plastic Recycling Symbol #4: LDPE

LDPE or low-density polyethylene is a flexible plastic with many applications. It hasn't been accepted through most American recycling programs, but more and more communities are starting to accept it.

Found in: Squeezable bottles; bread, frozen food, dry cleaning, and shopping bags; tote bags; furniture.

How to recycle it: LDPE is not often recycled through curbside programs, but some communities might accept it. That means anything made with LDPE (like toothpaste tubes) can be thrown in the trash. Just like we mentioned under HDPE, plastic shopping bags can often be returned to stores for recycling. 




Plastic Recycling Symbols #5: PP

PP or polypropylene has a high melting point, so it's often chosen for containers that will hold hot liquid. It's gradually becoming more accepted by recyclers.

Found in: Some yogurt containers, syrup and medicine bottles, caps, straws

How to recycle it: PP can be recycled through some curbside programs, just don't forget to make sure there's no food left inside. It's best to throw loose caps into the garbage since they easily slip through screens during recycling and end up as trash anyways. 

Plastic Recycling Symbol #6: PS

PS or polystyrene can be made into rigid or foam products — in the latter case it is popularly known as the trademark Styrofoam. Styrene monomer (a type of molecule) can leach into foods and is a possible human carcinogen, while styrene oxide is classified as a probable carcinogen. The material was long on environmentalists' hit lists for dispersing widely across the landscape, and for being notoriously difficult to recycle. Most places still don't accept it in foam forms because it's 98% air. 

Found in: Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases

How to recycle it: Not many curbside recycling programs accept PS in the form of rigid plastics (and many manufacturers have switched to using PET instead). Since foam products tend to break apart into smaller pieces, you should place them in a bag, squeeze out the air, and tie it up before putting it in the trash to prevent pellets from dispersing.

Plastic Recycling Symbol #7: Miscellaneous

A wide variety of plastic resins that don't fit into the previous categories are lumped into this one. Polycarbonate is a number seven plastic, and it's the hard plastic that has worried parents after studies have shown it as a hormone disruptor. PLA (polylactic acid), which is made from plants and is carbon neutral, also falls into this category. 

Found in: Three- and five-gallon water bottles, bullet-proof materials, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and computer cases, signs and displays, certain food containers, nylon

How to recycle it: These other plastics are traditionally not recycled, so don't expect your local provider to accept them. The best option is to consult your municipality's website for specific instructions.




Fortunately, you have a better option. By using reusable products made from abundant materials that are free from toxins, you can help protect the earth and all of its inhabitants. Every Silipint product is made from 100% food grade, platinum silicone and is the perfect place to start!  One Silipint product can replace hundreds, even thousands of single-use plastics from entering our landfills, oceans, and wild environments each year. 

Make the change to reusable, unbreakable silicone products! At Silipint we have a wide variety of products - Wines, Pints, Bowls - all built to last a lifetime. check out our variety of products and see which Silipint is right for you!


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