Not all plastics are created equal.
Not all plastics are recyclable.
Know the items, not the materials.
Just focus on the item, not the type of plastic
It is more important to follow the Recycling Instructions from Waste Connections than to try to find out what exact plastic types are recyclable in your cart. When deciding if you should put something into your recycling cart, the object size and shape are often more important than the material type. Sorting machines are designed to expect certain objects, of which are made of the desired material for recycling.
The first process in the life of your recyclables is as follows:
- You put a recyclable in your cart
- The truck picks up the recyclable
- The truck dumps the load at a Materials Reclamation Facility (MRF)
- The MRF sorts and bales the recyclables
- The MRF sells the bales to recyclers for creating recycled products or further sorting
Your help is wanted! The MRF is designed to recognize objects that are on the Recycling Instructions; the MRF is not designed to be able to identify the material an object is made from. Because of that, objects that are not on the instructions can cause havoc on the machines and shut down the recycling process. Some of these items are recyclable elsewhere, but since they were improperly placed in a curbside recycling cart they now will end up at the landfill, or contaminate good recyclables causing them to go to the landfill too. Do your part, and recycle right.
Numbers, i.e. Resin Codes
The ASTM International Resin Identification Coding System (RIC) was originally developed by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) in 1988 to identify the plastic resin used to make a product. This was helpful for recycler companies, but was never meant for consumers or residents for recycling. Commonly seen as a triangular symbol made of chasing arrows with a number in the center, the resin code is often confused with the recycling symbol. In 2013, SPI announced that resin codes will start to use a solid equilateral triangle (without the arrows), with a number still in the center, to eliminate this common mix-up with the public.
|Resin Code||Plastic Type||Curbside Recyclables||Non-recyclable examples|
|1||polyethylene terephthalate (PET)||Soda/beverage bottles||Fleece, strapping, tote bags, furniture, chairs, carpet, cups|
|2||high-density polyethylene (HDPE)||Detergent bottles, milk jugs||Pipe, bins, auto and playground equipment, plastic bags|
|3||polyvinyl chloride (PVC)||Pipe, siding, fencing, flooring, shower curtains, lawn chairs, toys|
|4||low-density polyethylene (LDPE)||Plastic bags, 6-pack rings, various containers|
|5||polypropylene (PP)||Auto parts, food containers, dishware|
|6||polystyrene (PS)||Styrofoam, plastic utensils and trays, cassettes, clamshell containers, packing peanuts|
|7||Other, including acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate, fiberglass, and polylactic acid (PLA)||Headlight lenses, safety shields/glasses, Plexiglass, eyeglass and contact lenses, paint, stockings, toothbrushes, DVD/CDs, etc.|
Did you know it is State law for plastic products to have a resin code? 39 states have such a law. Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 70.95F, Labeling of Plastics, “no person may distribute, sell, or offer for sale in this state a plastic bottle or rigid plastic container unless the container is labeled with a code identifying the appropriate resin type used to produce the structure of the container.”