Plastic by the Numbers!

Explaining The Recycling Numbers

Ever wonder which types of plastic are recyclable, or which ones are safe for you to use? It’s easy to determine, once you know to look for the code on the bottom of the item. Then, it’s just a matter of remembering this simple rhyme:

“1, 2, 5, 4: These are the ones you’re looking for!”

Remember, items marked 1, 2, 5 and 4 are safe. But avoid those marked with 3, 6 or 7.

Take a look at our chart below to learn how to use, recycle or dispose.

Safe Plastics to Use and Recycle

  Name Found In Use Recyclable
recycle_plastic_1 Polyethylene Terephthalate Clear plastic water bottles One-time use only. This thin plastic should not be reused, refilled or heated. YES
recycle_plastic_2 High-Density Polyethylene Thicker opaque plastic used in milk jugs, detergent packaging and toys Safe to reuse. YES
recycle_plastic_3 Polyvinyl Chloride Mattress covers, squeeze bottles Avoid: Releases dioxin, contains phthalates, shown to cause cancer. NO
recycle_plastic_4 Low-Density Polyethylene Soft, flexible plastics such as those used in grocery store bags, plastic wrap, dry cleaning bags, shopping bags and garbage bags. One of the safer plastics, but please recycle! Better yet, consider replacing with reusable bags to save landfill space. YES
recycle_plastic_5 Polypropylene Hard but flexible plastics like yogurt containers, drinking straws, syrup bottles, etc. One of the safer plastics, but please recycle. YES
recycle_plastic_6 Polystyrene Rigid plastics such as opaque plastic spoons and forks, and in foam-style coffee cups and meat packaging trays. Avoid: These plastics can leach styrene, a known neurotoxin with other negative health effects. NO
recycle_plastic_7 Other (including polycarbonate, nylon and acrylic) 5-gallon water bottles, sports bottles, clear cutlery, food can linings, etc. Avoid: May contain BPA, a known endocrine disruptor. NO

How do you avoid these dangerous plastics? Share your tips here!

Healthy Child: Know your Plastics
Natural Society: Plastic Symbol Meanings

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