Have you ever noticed the codes on the bottom of your plastic products? On bottles, containers and other packaging products, you will find what looks like a triangle logo with a number inside. This number indicates what grade the plastic is, and how you should recycle it. These codes are so important when it comes to recycling products but aren’t widely known throughout our communities.
7/10 Australians say that they look for recycling information on packaging, but they are often confused by the information, so we’ve included a few descriptions below of the different grades of plastics that are coded under this program.
1 – PETE – Polyethylene Terephthalate
These are often the easiest plastics to recycle. Think products like soft drink bottles and common food packaging. These materials can be placed into your recycling bin and are recycled into plastic bottles and polyester fibres.
2 – HDPE – High Density Polyethylene
This type of material is usually found in packaging for things like detergents, bleach, shampoo, conditioner and milk containers. These materials can be placed into your recycling bin for pick up by your local council and are recycled into more bottles and bags for future use.
3 – V – Polyvinyl Chloride
Most people know what PVC looks like when they see it, but PVC includes pipes, toys, packing etc and can be difficult to recycle and a major health threat. PVC has been described as one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created. PVC should never be sent to landfill and should always be mechanically recycled so that it can be reused. If you have PVC that you need to recycle, contact your local council to find out the best way to dispose of it.
4 – LDPE – Low-density Polyethylene
LDPE is the material used to create things like ice-cream lids, garbage bags, sandwich bags etc and is usually a soft and flexible material that can be recycled into the same thing. Local councils usually do not accept these types of materials, but programs like REDcycle do, passing them onto a manufacturing company called Replas, who give these plastics a new life!
5 – PP – Polypropylene
Polypropylene materials can be used to create products like clothing, tubs, ropes or bottles and can be turned in to fibres when recycled properly. Ecobins are made from a class 5 plastic and are fully recyclable at the end of their life. These materials can be placed in your local council kerbside recycling bin.
6 – PS – Polystyrene
Polystyrene can be difficult to recycle due to its bulky, yet lightweight nature, and the fact that it’s manufactured from petroleum. You should avoid buying products that have this recycling code on them. However, if you do have products that contain this code, try to reuse the material for another use inside your home, or donate it to a local craft shop so that it doesn’t go into landfill. This type of material can not be placed in your kerbside recycling bin.
7 – All other plastics
This is the code used for all other types of plastics and should not be placed in to your recycling bin. It can include anything from acrylic to nylon, unfortunately recycling plants do not want this material and worse still, it could ruin an entire truckload of good recycling.
As a general rule, most plastic is recyclable, but due to collection, sorting and cleaning facilities, only certain plastics can be accepted by your local council. Codes 1, 2 & 5 can usually be recycled by your local council and codes 3, 4, 6 & 7 should be double checked depending on where you live.
It’s important to do your due diligence and to check your products for these codes to ensure that you are recycling them in the correct way, as just one wrong product can send an entire truckload of perfectly good recycling to landfill!