Plastic Recycling Codes:  What do they mean?!

Written by C. Cartwright
@Eco Blvd
08 Oct 2019

Not too long ago, the majority of the world’s population embraced the use of plastics and celebrated it’s ‘super powers’ regarding convenience and economy.  From baby’s bottles, blood bags to car parts and everything in between, our love affair with plastics was insatiable.

Global eco conscience was clearly in its infancy and was not yet robust enough to cry out in protest.

But we now know that once a plastic item is created it can start to leach toxic chemicals - just by virtue of it being made of plastic.  As well as causing health problems, we also know It can’t be broken down naturally, that it can destroy waterways and marine life and is literally choking our planet in its abundance.

Source: Scientists warn plastic pollution risks "near-permanent contamination" of nature.  Sun Online Desk 22nd July, 2017

In an effort to ‘deal’ with this enormous amount of plastic waste – governments / states / councils (as well as the fast maturing eco consciousness of the people) began the push for it to be recycled.   

This is where Recycling Codes come into the picture.   Or more accurately, Plastic Resin Codes.  These codes are printed within a triangle.  The number in the triangle identifies what kind of materials the plastic item is made from, NOT whether if it is recyclable or not.

Not all plastics are created equal

It’s not just a matter of putting all plastics to be recycled into one big melting pot and remodeling it into other things to use.  They need to be dealt with differently due to their composition, and some are more difficult or costly to recycle compared to others. 

By identifying all the different ‘types’ of plastic and then grouping them under different numbers (codes) – we are able to very quickly separate the plastics that can/can’t be recycled as well as identify the more profitable plastics to recycle.  As recycling facilities are a business, if it can’t make a profit from recycling certain types of plastic – it simply won’t.   

We've created a FREE guide for you to download which outlines which plastics are 'safe' to use, where these plastics are commonly used in your everyday life and what they can be recycled into.  It also includes a column where you can place a yes or no as to whether your local council will collect it for recycling.  This quick visual check option lets you know at a glance what you can put into your own recycling bin - so it’s a great idea to keep it somewhere handy!

Remember, before putting anything into your recycling bin, please check to see if it is accepted in your local area, because placing plastics which are not allowed (or you are unsure of) will contaminate the entire recycling load.

Would you like a FREE guide to understanding Plastic Recycling Codes?