Know how to identify your plastics

Plastic goods are assigned different numbers to grade them for recycling: #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE) for containers, #4 (LDPE) for bags, #7 for mixed plastics such as polycarbonates that are not recyclable. Almost all recycling centres accept plastics #1 #2, 4, 5 and #6.

PET Plastic Bottles #1

Plastic bottles are usually made of #1 PET plastic, a valuable recyclable material. Among many other items, this plastic can be turned into many new and useful products, like fibre-fill for duvets and pillows, fibre for geotextiles, carpeting and insulation, PET trays for fruit, packaging and even brand-new bottles. More information about PET bottle recycling

Polyolefins #2, 4 and 5

The material identification codes for polyolefins are numbers 2, 4 and 5. These numbers are used when sorting for recycling and will also tell you that the item should go into your recycling bin or bag!

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) #2 is packaging made from HDPE used for bottles, crates and drums for a wide range of chemicals. HDPE can also be made into opaque (not clear) film for packaging.

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) #4 is a strong and tough film and is used for general packaging and wrapping of consumer goods.

Polypropylene (PP) #5 makes up stiff thin-walled packaging items. Various kinds of film from polypropylene are used for different applications. They are different in the way they look and behave.  Film-extruded clear PP films are very strong, the biaxially orientated PP (BOPP) films are shiny, clear and crackle when handled.  It is therefore ideally suited for integral lid closures and containers like tablet vials. The bulk of bottle caps and closures are made of PP.

More information about polyolefin recycling

Polystyrene (#6)

Polystyrene (#6) (cups, food trays, egg cartons, etc.) do not biodegrade. Ask if your recycling centre accepts polystyrene for recycling; many now accept this material. More information on polystyrene recycling

Find out more about the Plastic Categories , what can be recycled and what it is made into by clicking here.