Plastic Recycling Codes: What do these numbers mean?

Plastic Recycling Codes group plastics in 7 Major Categories based on the raw materials used.

Plastic Recycling Facts

The use of Recycling Codes has become increasingly popular to facilitate easier recycling, reusing or reprocessing of materials like plastic. Recycling Code is usually indicated by a symbol of chasing arrows logo with a number within it. Recycling Codes only indicate the constituent raw materials of a particular item or product and not the fact whether the material is recyclable.

Based on different applications, there are several types of plastics which are available. Some of these plastics may contain harmful chemicals and might not be suitable for standard recycling or reprocessing purposes.

Plastic Recycling Codes categorize all the various plastics into 7 major groups for easier and faster recycling and reprocessing. Because the codes indicate the constituent raw materials, recyclers can quickly learn about the plastics biodegradability or how likely is the plastic to leech and so on. 

Here's What they Mean:

Plastic Recycling Codes
Properties Uses/Applications Recyclable
Plastic Recycling Codes | Greensutra | India Polyethylene
Terephthalate
-Clear
-Light-Weight
-Gas & Moisture Barrier
-Single Use
-Cannot be Heated
-Bottles for Water
-Bottles for Carbonated Drinks
-Bottles for Coconut Oil
-Jars for Peanut Butter
YES
(Can be
Recycled Once)
Plastic Recycling Codes | Greensutra | India High Density
Polyethylene
-Thick
-Opaque
-Thermoforming Type
-Light-Weight
-High Degree of Impact Resistance
-Chemical & Corrosion Resistant
-High Tensile Strength
-Orthotic & Prosthetic Devices
-Tanks
-Light Weight Chain Guides
-Water Storage Tanks
YES
(Recycled into
Secondary Products)
Plastic Recycling Codes | Greensutra | India Polyvinyl
Chloride
-Hard
-Opaque
-Highly Versatile
-High Mechanical Strength
-Easily Blendable
-Packaging Materials (Non Food)
-Rigid Piping
-Electrical Insulation
-Vinyl Records
NO
(Contains Potent
Carcinogens, Hormone Disrupting Chemicals)
Plastic Recycling Codes | Greensutra | India Low Density
Polyethylene
-Soft
-Flexible
-High degree of Mechanical Strength
-Gas & Moisture Barrier
-Squeezable Bottles
-Cling Films
-Packaging for Frozen Foods
-Flexible Container Lids
YES
Plastic Recycling Codes | Greensutra | India Polypropylene -Hard
-Flexible
-Heat Resistant
-Chemical, Grease & Oil Resistant
-High Mechanical Strength
-
-Kitchenware
-Reusable Microwave-ware
-Aerated Drink Bottle Caps
-Microwavable Take-Away Containers
-TV Housings
YES
Plastic Recycling Codes | Greensutra | India Polystyrene -Rigid
-Opaque
-Thermoforming Type
-Egg Cartons
-Disposable Cups & Plates
-Disposable Take-Away Containers
NO
(Contains Neurotoxins)
Plastic Recycling Codes | Greensutra | India Other:
Polycarbonate
BioPlastics
ABS
Acrylic
-Cannot be Heated -Baby Milk Bottles
-Compact Disks
-Electronic Apparatus Housing
-Sunglasses
-Prescription Glasses
-Riot Sheilds
NON STANDARD

Which are Safe & Which to Avoid

It is always better to reduce dependency on plastics and avoid as much as possible. Since it is not possible to stop using plastics completely, Plastic Recycling Codes helps us identify plastics that are safe to recycle and ones that cannot be.

  • Plastics with Codes 3,6 and 7 cannot be recycled under standard recycling procedures and may pose harm to health and the environment. These should be Avoided.
  • Plastics with Code 1 is considered safe to recycle, but it can be recycled only once. It is always advisable to avoid this type.
  • Plastics with Codes 2,4 and 5 are considered safest to recycle.