Did you know the triangle symbol on the bottom of plastic containers does not necessarily mean it is recyclable? The number inside the chasing arrow symbol is the resin identification code. These numbers indicate the type of resin used in the making of the container. The numbers 1-7 are assigned to various plastics for identification purposes during the recycling sorting process. Below are the numbers, what each means and if it is recyclable.
#1: Polyethylene terephtalate, also known as PETE or PET. This plastic is used to make water bottles and IS recyclable.
#2: High-density polyethylene, or HDPE. This plastic is used to make milk jugs and detergent bottles and IS recyclable.
#3: Polyvinyl chloride, aka PVC. This is usually what plastic food packaging is made of and it is NOT recyclable.
#4: Low-density polyethylene, or LDPE. This is what plastic shopping bags are made of. It requires a special recycling process and should not be intermingled with other recyclables.
#5: Polypropylene. This plastic is used to make yogurt cups and other opaque containers. It IS recyclable.
#6: Polystyrene, or Styrofoam. These items are NOT recyclable and they are NOT biodegradable.
#7: The mixed bag category. These plastics are used to make everything from iPods to food storage containers. These are usually NOT recyclable.