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Types of Plastic and Their Recycling Codes

Volunteers picking up plastic to recycle

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 recycling code. You can find the plastic recycling numbers printed right on most products. For containers, such as cups and bottles, the code will usually be found on the bottom.

Plastic Recycle Code 1

Number 1

Code: PET or PETE
Material: Polyethylene Terephthalate

Plastic Recycle Code 2

Number 2

Code: HDPE
Material: High Density Polyethylene

  • RECYCLED INTO
  • Carpeting
  • Furniture
  • Stationary
  • Synthetic lumber
  • Floor tile
  • Drainage pipes
  • Trash cans
Plastic Recycle Code 3

Number 3

Code: V or PVC
Material: Vinyl or Polyvinyl Chloride

  • RECYCLED INTO
  • Synthetic lumber
  • Flooring
  • Cables
  • Mud flaps
  • Floor mats
  • Shoe soles
  • Traffic cones
    Note: Contains chlorine. Toxic when burned or used for cooking.
Plastic Recycle Code 4

Number 4

Code: LDPE
Material: Low Density Polyethylene

  • FOUND IN
  • Prescription bottles
  • Yogurt containers
  • Custom non-woven bags
  • Hinged items
  • Rope
  • Carpet
  • Thermal underwear
  • Fast food soft drink cups
  • RECYCLED INTO
  • Car batteries
  • Storage bins
  • Ice scrapers
  • Cables
  • Broom bristles
  • Rakes
  • Promotional dishware
Plastic Recycle Code 5

Number 5

Code: PP
Material: Polypropylene

  • FOUND IN
  • Squeezable bottles
  • Bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags
  • Promotional film bags
  • Six pack rings
  • Playground slides
  • Container lids
  • Wire insulation
  • RECYCLED INTO
  • Trash bags and cans
  • Compost bins
  • Shipping envelopes
  • Paneling
  • Floor tile
    Note: Plastic bags are not traditionally recyclable. Plastic shopping bags can be returned to many stores for reuse.
Plastic Recycle Code 6

Number 6

Code: PS
Material: Polystyrene

  • FOUND IN
  • Take-out containers
  • Disposable foam plates or cups
  • Egg cartons
  • Meat trays
  • Compact disc cases
  • Imprinted clocks
  • RECYCLED INTO
  • Foam packing
  • Take-out containers
  • Egg cartons
  • Insulation
  • Photo frames
  • License plate holders
    Note: Can be made into either foam or hard plastic products. Styrofoam® is one brand name for polystyrene foam. This foam is NOT always recyclable.
Plastic Recycle Code 7

Number 7

Code: OTHER
Material: Miscellaneous – Any plastic types that don't fit into the previous categories, or are combinations of any of them, are lumped together under Number 7. Examples include acrylic, polycarbonate, nylon, and fiberglass.

If you’re not sure what plastics or other items can be recycled in your office, find information about your local recycling center or curbside program at earth911.com. For more information on what promotional products are recyclable, or are made from recycled materials, check out our Eco-Friendly Promotional Products Buying Guide.