Breaking Down the 7 Types of Plastic

Have you ever looked at the bottom of a rigid plastic packaging item to find a tiny recycle symbol with a number in the center? These numbers were developed in the late 1900s by the plastics industry for the plastics industry to streamline manufacturing and recycled plastics reprocessing.

While the three arrows forming a triangle may be universally recognized as the “recycling symbol”, these particular symbols known as resin identification codes (RIC) are a little trickier to decipher. Luckily for you, we’ve created a quick, handy guide below to help you understand what each of these numbers 1-7 mean, and the feasibility of recycling them in your municipality.

At a glance, RIC codes are separated into seven categories:

  1. PET: polyethylene terephthalate
  2. HDPE: high-density polyethylene
  3. PVC: polyvinyl chloride
  4. LDPE: low-density polyethylene
  5. PP: polypropylene
  6. PS: polystyrene
  7. Other

The (1) and (2) symbols are usually accepted in most recycling programs. In NYC, the New York City Department of Sanitation will accept rigid plastic in its curbside recycling program. Always double check with your local municipality to see what items are accepted!

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