Tag Archives: Recycling Symbols

Recycling Symbols: A Review

15 Oct

This is a guest post by John Simonetta, owner of ProformaGreen, an eco-friendly promotional items consultancy. John’s blogs are designed to keep us up to date on the “greening” of his industry.

When Proforma Green goes to events we often get asked questions on what the different recycling symbols on plastic items stand for. I thought this might be a question some of our readers would like answered as well and so decided to re-post here information on the symbols first put together by thedailygreen.com.

PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate)

Found in: Soft drink, water and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers; ovenable food trays.

Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs.

Recycled into: Polar fleece, fiber, tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling, straps, (occasionally) new containers

PET plastic is the most common for single-use bottled beverages, because it is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to recycle. It poses low risk of leaching breakdown products. Recycling rates remain relatively low (around 20%), though the material is in high demand by remanufacturers.

HDPE (high density polyethylene)

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

Recycling: Picked up through most curbside recycling programs, although some allow only those containers with necks.

Recycled into: Laundry detergent bottles, oil bottles, pens, recycling containers, floor tile, drainage pipe, lumber, benches, doghouses, picnic tables, fencing.

HDPE is a versatile plastic with many uses, especially for packaging. It carries low risk of leaching and is readily recyclable into many goods.

V (Vinyl) or PVC

Found in: Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping.

Recycling: Rarely recycled; accepted by some plastic lumber makers.

Recycled into: Decks, paneling, mudflaps, roadway gutters, flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats.

PVC is tough and weathers well, so it is commonly used for piping, siding and similar applications. PVC contains chlorine, so its manufacture can release highly dangerous dioxins. If you must cook with PVC, don’t let the plastic touch food. Also never burn PVC, because it releases toxins.

LDPE (low density polyethylene)

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

Recycling: LDPE is not often recycled through curbside programs, but some communities will accept it. Plastic shopping bags can be returned to many stores for recycling.

Recycled into: Trash can liners and cans, compost bins, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, landscaping ties, floor tile.

LDPE is a flexible plastic with many applications. Historically it has not been accepted through most American curbside recycling programs, but more and more communities are starting to accept it. Continue reading

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