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Environment and Ecology

Environmental Challenges

What do the numbers inside the recycling symbol on plastic containers mean?

The Society of the Plastics Industry developed a voluntary coding system for plastic containers to assist recyclers in sorting plastic containers. The symbol is designed to be imprinted on the bottom of the plastic containers. The numerical code appears inside a three-sided triangular arrow. A guide to what the numbers mean is listed below. The most commonly recycled plastics are polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The following lists the numbers, codes, and examples:

Code Material

Examples

1

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE)

2-liter soft drink bottle

2

High-density polyethylene (HDPE)

Milk and water jugs

3

Vinyl

(PVC) Plastic pipes, shampoo bottles

4

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)

Produce bags, food storage containers

5

Polypropylene (PP)

Squeeze bottles, straws

6

Polystyrene (PS)

Food packaging



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