Did you know that recycling one plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a light bulb for three hours ! That’s one reason we’re proud to say that all of our Buxton Water bottles are 100% recyclable. This isn’t the case for all plastics though, keep reading to learn about the different types of plastic along with which types of plastic can be recycled.
H2: What are the different types of plastic?
Before you begin to look at what plastics can be recycled you must first understand what the different types of plastic are. To identify this, you should look for the chasing arrows logo located on plastic packaging. This logo will have a number from 1-7 inside the arrows, this number lets you know what type of plastic the packaging is made from.
1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE) – The first code represents PETE also known as PET, this type of plastic is one of the most common around. It is used in plastic packaging for storage containers such as plastic bottles for drinks or other foods such as jam or pickles. Check out our article for further information around PET and plastic bottle recycling .
2 High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) – This type of plastic can be commonly found in milk jugs along with household cleaning product bottles such as bleach. HDPE plastics are used over PETE plastics for this type of liquid storage because the plastic itself is much stiffer and harder wearing. This is important when storing liquids with chemicals such as cleaning products. This type of plastic also does not break down when exposed to hot or cold temperatures.
3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – Polyvinyl Chloride also known as PVC is used to make plastic products such as clingfilm. It’s also used in plastic piping and to encase electrical wires. PVC is a flexible type of plastic that tends to be relatively unaffected by weather conditions such as rain or snow.
4 Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) – This type of plastic is often found in bags and wraps. It is commonly used to package foods such loaves of bread or in the special coating on paper milk cartons. It can also be found in items such as dry cleaner bags and cold drinks cups. The plastic itself is relatively flexible and can withstand being exposed to reasonably warm temperatures.
5 Polypropylene (PP) – Polypropylene is a light plastic that is often found in items such as yoghurt containers and in the lining of cereal boxes. This type of plastic is very tough and can be used to seal things inside it, this protects against moisture and bacteria.
6 Polystyrene (PS) – PS otherwise known as polystyrene is most commonly found in fast food containers and Styrofoam drinking cups. It’s also used in packaging when transporting products long distances. Polystyrene can be easily moulded into different shapes and is extremely lightweight.
7 Other – The other category covers off any type of plastic created that does not fall into one of the categories mentioned above. The kind of products that are made from plastics not mentioned above includes water cooler bottles.
Understanding exactly what types of plastic can be recycled isn’t always easy, this is because products can often be composed of or made by putting different types of plastics together. In a case where this is present, you should separate the plastics from one another and recycle separately depending on what type of plastic they are.
What kind of plastics can be recycled:
PET - Polyethylene Terephthalate products can be easily recycled. This is done by first crushing the plastic to a smaller size and then shredding it into small flakes.
- HDPE – This type of plastic can be recycled and also easily reused.
- LDPE – This plastic can be recycled but not always. It’s important you check with your local council if they have the facilities to recycle this type of plastic and if the product you are trying to recycle is appropriate for recycling.
- PP – Polypropylene can be recycled easily.
What kind of plastics can’t be recycled:
- PVC – Products made from PVC can’t be recycled, they can in some cases, however, be reused.
- PS – Polystyrene can be recycled but it is very difficult to do so. Because of this alternatives should be used where possible.
- Other – The majority of plastics that fall into the other category can’t be recycled, this being said there are a few exceptions as this isn’t always the case.
If you’re unsure about what plastic materials can and can’t be recycled lookout for recycling symbols on your product’s packaging. These symbols feature an arrow in the shape of a circle on either a green or black background. A circular arrow on a green background with the words widely recycled beneath is applied to packaging that can be recycled easily. For information around the full list of recycling symbols and their different variants visit the packaging symbols explained page on the Recycle Now website.