Top Plastic Recycling Codes Every Business Owner Should Know

Top Plastic Recycling Codes Every Business Owner Should Know

By AAA Polymer | Plastics Recycling

Jul 13

The well-recognized “chasing arrows” or plastic recycling codes are utilized to identify the type of plastic used in the product. But not all plastics are reusable or even recyclable. Because of this, there are certain plastic recycling codes that may be more prevalent than others.

And the team at AAA Polymer has outlined out top plastic recycling codes that every warehouse, distribution center, or business owner should know. Let's take a closer look at the seven different plastic recycling codes. 

No. 1 —Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is regularly found in consumer products, such as packaging, water bottles, and soda bottles. PET is primarily used for single-use applications because repeated use can increase the risk of bacterial growth and potentially leaching carcinogens. At the same time, this material is relatively difficult to decontaminate, and cleaning it properly requires harmful chemicals. 

Can PETs Be Recycled?

PET plastics should be recycled — not reused. In fact, approximately 25% of PET bottles are recycled. To recycle PET materials, the plastic must be crushed, shredded into tiny flakes, and then reprocessed into polyester fiber or new PET bottles. The recycled fiber can be used to make carpets, fleece garments, life jackets, stuffing for pillows, and similar products.

No. 2 Plastic Recycling Code — High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

As one of the safest and most commonly recycled plastics, HDPE plastics are used for a range of different applications. This hard-wearing plastic can resist degradation under exposure to sunlight or extremes of freezing and heating. Some of the most common applications of HDPE include:

  • Freezer bags
  • Shopping bags
  • Ice cream containers
  • Milk bottles
  • Shampoo
  • Juice bottles
  • Buckets
  • Detergent and chemical bottles
  • Crates
  • Rigid agricultural pipes

Can the HDPE No. 2 Plastics Be Recycled?

HDPE is one of the most commonly recycled plastics with about 30 million tons being recycled annually. Once recycled, HDPE can be used to provide a vast range of products, such as:

  • Toys and playground equipment
  • Outdoor patio furniture
  • Recycling bins
  • Plastic lumber
  • Piping
  • Rope
  • Automobile parts
  • Plastic storage containers
  • Trash cans

No. 3 Plastic Recycling Code — Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) 

PVC is a flexible, soft material used to create teething rings, cooking oil bottles, plastic food wrapping, pet toys, and much more. It's often used for sheathing material for computer cables and for garden hoses. Due to its imperviousness to weather and sunlight, PVC is also used in arbors, trellises, window frames, and more. 

Can PVC Plastics Be Recycled?

PVC plastics aren't recyclable, but some products can be repurposed.

No. 4 Plastic Recycling Code — Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

LDPE is a relatively safe plastic that is considered less toxic than other materials. It's a thermoplastic created from the monomer ethylene. The virgin form of LDPE can be used for a variety of products, including:

Applications for Recycled LDPE 

Recycled LDPE materials can be utilized to create a vast range of different products, including:

  • Packaging, film, and bags
  • Bottles and caps
  • Toys
  • Pipe and cable jacketing
  • General commodity items
  • Plumbing pipes, plumbing joints, and irrigation components

No. 5 Plastic Recycling Code — Polypropylene (PP)

As a lightweight and tough plastic, polypropylene boasts excellent heat resistance. It also acts as a remarkable barrier against chemicals, grease, and moisture. Because of this, PP is used in applications like plastic bottle tops, disposable diaper pails, yogurt containers, packing tape, margarine containers, and more.

What Is Recycled PP Used For? 

Currently, a mere 3% of polypropylene products are recycled in the U.S. And when PP is recycled, it can be used to make items like battery cases, landscaping border stripping, trays, bins, brooms, and more.  

No. 6 Plastic Recycling Code — Polystyrene (PS)

Polystyrene is a lightweight, inexpensive, and easily formed plastic that has a vast range of different uses. Most often, it's used to make egg cartons, drinking cups, plastic cutlery, foam packaging peanuts, and more. PS is also used for rigid foam insulation as well as underlayment for laminate flooring. 

Can You Recycle Polystyrene

Recycling for PS isn't widely available. Due to the material being ultra-lightweight and structurally weak, it can break up and be easily dispersed in the natural environment.

No. 7 Plastic Recycling Code — Other Plastics 

Category 7 was designed as a catch-all for a range of other plastics, including BPAs, LEXAN, Polycarbonate, and more. No.7 plastics are used to make water cooler bottles, baby bottles, sippy cups, and more. 

For the most part, these plastics are not reusable. Contact AAA Polymer for Commercial Plastic Recycling Solutions for Warehouses, Business, and Distribution Centers

At AAA Polymer, we are the recyclable plastic materials experts for warehouses, distribution centers, and businesses. Since 1974, we've helped countless businesses create savings with stretch film recycling programs. And the top plastic recycling codes we focus on include:

  • #2 High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
  • #4 Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
  • #5 Polypropylene (PP)

Contact us today to learn more about our commercial recycling solutions. 

About the Author

Save $1000s with a smarter commercial recycling program

x