Fortunately, recycling plastics typically doesn’t require in-depth knowledge of the types of plastics we’re using and recycling. Just follow the directions from your community or recycling company, and recycle everything you can to leave a lighter footprint on the environment.
But if you’re curious what plastics are recycled—and what happens to recycled plastics—here’s a handy little chart that spells it out for the most commonly recycled plastics.
Note: resin means a type of plastic. The resin code is typically found on plastic packaging.
|Resin code||Name/description||A few common uses||
Examples of uses for
|1 PET||Polyethylene terephthalate is clear, tough, and a good barrier to moisture. When woven into fabric, it’s known as polyester.||Polyethylene terephthalate is commonly used for: Beverage bottles; condiment bottles and jars; frozen food trays; clamshell containers; mouthwash and other toiletry bottles; clothing; carpeting||Recycled polyethylene terephthalate is can be turned into: Clothing such as fleece jackets, T-shirts and leggings; carpeting; vehicle upholstery; bottles|
|2 HDPE||High-density polyethylene is a rigid plastic that resists corrosion when exposed to a variety of substances.||High-density polyethylene is commonly used for: Milk and juice jugs; laundry detergent and bleach bottles; shampoo and other toiletry bottles; vitamin bottles||Recycled high-density polyethylene can be turned into: Plastic bottles and jugs; plastic lumber for decks, outdoor furniture, and playground equipment|
|3 PVC||Polyvinyl chloride offers clear, high-impact strength and resistance to corrosion.||Polyvinyl chloride is commonly used for: Rigid packaging such as clamshells; rigid film, pipes, siding, flooring, and window frames; insulation for electrical wire||Recycled polyvinyl chloride can be turned into: Pipes; floor tiles and mats; mud flaps for trucks; garden hoses; traffic cones; carpet backing; hotel key cards; credit cards|
|4 LDPE||Low-density polyethylene is a transparent, flexible plastic used extensively in wraps, bags and other films.||Low-density polyethylene is commonly used for: Bags for groceries, dry cleaning, bread and trash; wraps to package products such as cases of water bottles and diapers; cling wrap for food protection; squeezable condiment bottles; mail-order garment packaging||Recycled low-density polyethylene can be turned into: Plastic composite lumber for decks; floor tiles; compost bins and trash cans|
|5 PP||Polypropylene is a durable plastic that can stand up to a range of temperatures and substances.||Polypropylene is commonly used for: Yogurt and margarine containers and lids; deli containers; beverage bottle caps; clamshells; medicine jars; condiment bottles; convenience store drink cups; reusable food storage containers||Recycled polypropylene can be turned into: Mixing bowls, spatulas and cutting boards; shovels and watering cans; automotive battery cases, oil funnels, and ice scrapers; storage bins; shipping pallets|
|6 PS||Polystyrene is a versatile plastic that can be made rigid and clear or as an opaque foam.||Polystyrene is commonly used for: Foodservice clamshell containers, plates, cups, lids and cutlery; meat and poultry trays; protective packaging, building insulation||Recycled polystyrene can be turned into: Insulation; egg cartons; picture frames, moldings, and other home décor products; foam protective packaging|
|7 Other||This resin either is none of the six above or is made with more than one resin.||Depends on resin||Depends on resin|
Want to learn how to recycle more plastics?
Plastics Recycling 101
Recycling facts about plastic
What is polyethylene plastic?