It may seem like a no brainer when it comes to recycling—place your recyclables in a bin and put it on the curb for collection. There are some items that cannot be recycled curbside, and there are many items you think are recyclable, but ultimately are not. Plastic, in particular, can be tricky to recycle. Generally, most plastics will have a number on the bottom, which lets you know the plastic type that can be placed in your home recycling bin to be picked up by the recycling collectors.
#1 PET – (polyethylene terephthalate) is clear or slightly tinted and has a high melting point: soft drink bottles, peanut butter jars, salad dressing, and sheeting for microwave food trays. Recycled PET is also used to produce carpets and clothing (polyester).
#2 HDPE – (high density polyethylene) – is translucent or colored: milk jugs, juice bottles, water and detergent bottles, margarine tubs, cool whip, bleach bottles, lotion bottles, shampoo bottles, and bubble bath
#3 Vinyl – PVC (polyvinyl chloride): have a shiny surface and sink in water – vegetable oil and shampoo bottles, laundry detergent containers, cooking oil bottles, window cleaning products, and fresh meat wrappers
#4 LDPE (low density polyethylene): margarine tubs, mustard, and coffee can lids
#5 PP (polypropylene): squeezable jelly, syrup bottles, and ketchup bottles
#6 PS (polystyrene): Styrofoam containers
#7 OTHER: all other plastics
Before recycling any of these plastics, make sure you rinse them out. Items that have food or other types of residue cannot be recycled and will be thrown out instead. It is important to note that you cannot place plastic bags from grocery and convenience stores in your curbside recycling. Luckily, you can take plastic bags back to grocery stores, which have designated bins to recycle plastic bags.
Ultimately, minimizing your plastic use has more benefits. Save money with a reusable water bottle or coffee cup. Does it seem like you have 1,000 plastic bags in your pantry that multiply like rabbits? Invest in canvas totes and shopping bags to bring to the grocery store. Check with your local recycling collection service about what plastics are acceptable.