Plastic Recycling Numbers and What They Mean

On every piece of plastic that is recyclable, there’s the recycling symbol and a number. You’ve probably wondered what those numbers represent. Here’s a quick overview of the plastic recycling numbers and what they mean.

Plastic Recycling Numbers

All plastics are not identical. Plastics are made of different combinations of materials. The numbers on plastic recycling symbols are known as the SPI resin identification coding system. They identify the type of polymer used in that particular plastic.

1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate
2 – High Density Polyethylene
3 – Polyvinyl Chloride
4 – Low Density Polyethylene
5 – Polypropylene
6 – Polystyrene
7 – Other Plastics (i.e. acrylic, nylon)

recycling numbers

Importance of Recycling Numbers

Different polymers may use a different process for recycling. Therefore, not all recycling programs will accept all plastic recycling numbers. Check with your local recycling program on which numbers they accept. By sorting your plastics ahead of time, this will save your local recycling center time and cost from filtering through plastics that they cannot accept. If you are an avid recycer and do not wish to trash the unaccepted items, you may locate an alternate recycling service or center to accept those additional numbers.