Confused about which plastics you can and cannot recycle? Then read along!
There are seven different types of plastics which all require different processing to be recycled and you will need to check with your council which numbers are accepted.
#1. These are the most common plastics and easy to recycle: PET or polyethylene terephthalate: Plastic water bottles, yogurt pots and plastic fruit containers. These plastics are usually recycled into polyester fabrics or fillings for fleeces and cushions.
#2. This number stands for a thicker container such as shampoo and laundry detergent bottles. This type of plastic is called HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) and can be recycled into toys, pipes and detergent bottles.
#3. You will find the V for Vinyl (Polyvinyl chloride) in your shower curtains, some cooking oil and shampoo bottles, but is mainly used to make pipes, medical tubes and dashboards. PVC can be recycled into vinyl flooring and window frames.
#4. This number stands for Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) and is reserved for all the thin and flexible wrappings like grocery bags, cling film and sandwich bags. These are very difficult to recycle and if you put them in your recycling, it can clog up the separating machines and cause serious trouble! Most supermarkets have a recycling bin for these bags so make sure to properly dispose of them here.
Not sure if something is LDPE? Do the scrunch test, read more about it here.
#5. With it's high melting point, PP (Polypropylene) can is used in many food containers and syrup/ketchup bottles (and caps). These items can be recycled into brooms, trays and buckets.
#6. You will find number 6 on polystyrene (styrofoam) items such as disposable coffee cups, food trays, packing peanuts and insulation. Most recycling facilities throw these away as they are too contaminated to recycle.
#7. Can't see a number? Or do you see a number 7? There is no particular name for these plastics as it refers to all other miscellaneous, hard to recycle and uncommon plastics. Please avoid buying these or return the packaging to the manufacturers.