An increasing number of consumer products – including countless promotional items – are made from plastic. Here's a quick primer to help you understand the differences between various types of plastic, by recycle code. You can find the recycle code printed right on most products. For containers, such as cups and bottles, the code will usually be found on the bottom.
Code: PET or PETE
Material: Polyethylene Terephthalate
Found in: Disposable beverage bottles, condiment containers, mouthwash bottles, microwave food trays, custom reusable BPA-free water bottles.
Recycled into: Carpeting, upholstery, fleece, bags, webbed straps, containers.
Material: High Density Polyethylene
Found in: Milk or juice jugs, bleach or detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, yogurt containers, cereal box liners, motor oil bottles, some trash and shopping bags.
Recycled into: Detergent or oil bottles, pens, synthetic lumber, floor tile, drainage pipe.
Code: V or PVC
Material: Vinyl or Polyvinyl Chloride
Found in: Plumbing pipes, wire casing, inflatable boats or pool toys, medical equipment, siding, windows, household cleaner packaging, clear food packaging.
Recycled into: Synthetic lumber, flooring, cables, mud flaps, floor mats.
Note: Contains chlorine. Toxic when burned or used for cooking.
Material: Low Density Polyethylene
Found in: Squeezable bottles, bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags, promo bags, clothing, furniture, carpet.
Recycled into: Trash can liners and cans, compost bins, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, landscaping ties, floor tile.
Note: Plastic shopping bags can be returned to many stores for recycling.
Found in: Beverage caps, straws, prescription bottles, some food containers and custom non woven bags.
Recycled into: Traffic lights, broom bristles, brushes, ice scrapers, cables, auto battery casing, landscaping tools, trays.
Found in: Take-out containers, disposable plates or cups, egg cartons, meat trays, compact disc cases.
Recycled into: Foam packing, take-out containers, egg cartons, insulation, light switch plates.
Note: Can be made into either hard or foam plastic products. Styrofoam® is one brand name for polystyrene foam. Studies suggest polystyrene foam may leach toxins into food when heated.
Material: Miscellaneous – Any plastics that don't fit into the previous categories are lumped together under Number 7
Found in: Polycarbonate sports bottles, five-gallon water bottles, sunglasses, Kevlar® and other bullet-resistant linings, iPod cases, signs, nylon.
Recycled into: Synthetic lumber.