We get a lot of questions about plastic recycling, and we get it! It’s confusing!
The chasing arrow symbol (or the triangle) with the number in the center is a code used by manufacturers to identify what resin type the plastic is made up of… it DOES NOT mean the plastic is recyclable (we know, we know… you’ve learned that symbol means “recycle”… well you heard it here – it doesn’t!)
So… What Numbers Can Be Recycled?
It depends… There are plastic resin types #1-#7 that are used to make thousands of different kinds of plastics. As plastics are formed, dyes and other additives are added to the resin to give the final product its desired shape, color, and texture. Each of these additives impact whether the final material will be recyclable or not.
Recycling companies like Millennium can only recycle the types of plastics that have a demand in the marketplace to be made into something new, and these materials must have sufficient market value to cover the costs of collection, processing, and transportation to the marketplace, otherwise, no recycling companies would be in business!
Many plastics meet this criteria, but many plastics do not, especially with the abundance of recycled plastics in the US with the current import bans from China. The plastics that can’t be recycled have limited markets and present haulers and processors with a lot of logistical challenges. Some materials are too light (styrofoam), too large (containers over 5 gallons), too small (loose bottle caps), or too full of chemicals (red solo cups) to be recycled in the single stream. Some can’t even fit in the processing equipment and can damage the machines or cause safety hazards for employees.
With all of this to think about, we’re going to fill you in on an easy tip to recycling plastics:
Stick to plastic bottles, tubs and jugs.
That’s it! Easy huh? Next time you’re holding a plastic toy or helmet or tarp or even a swimming pool thinking to yourself, but isn’t this plastic? The answer is yes it’s plastic, but NO it cannot be recycled in the single stream!!
Have something else you’re not sure about? Use our handy Where Do I Take This tool to search the database of local places you can recycle almost anything! If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask us! We love to hear your questions and if it’s not listed in our database, your questions help us add it to the list for others to see.