Plastic products are everywhere. Most of us use plastic containers, drink from plastic water bottles, or send and receive mail containing plastic shipping materials. Every day, it’s likely that you come into contact with some type of plastic.
And even though plastic recycling efforts are growing, what types of plastic can, and can’t be recycled, may not be clear. The first step in determining what’s recyclable or not is to first understand the different plastic grades that exist. So whether you want your household to start recycling, or you’re a Menasha, WI business owner looking to reduce your carbon footprint, here are the plastic grades to know.
1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)
PET plastic is one of the most commonly used and encountered types of plastics. Clear, durable, and lightweight, polyethylene terephthalate is used for food packaging as well as for 2-liter or convenience-sized bottles of soft drinks. Peanut butter jars, salad dressing bottles, and small, squeezable honey bottles are all made from PET.
Additionally, PET can be used for fibers and fabrics. You likely recognize PET both as its thermoplastic polymer resin form, and as polyester fabric. Marked on PETE plastic containers is a number one for its grade.
PET Plastic can be recycled.
2. HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)
Another common type of plastic, HDPE plastic is used for milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles, buckets, and even park benches. Because of its strong, moisture and chemical-resistant properties, HDPE plastics are ideal for building materials.
Marked by a number two, HDPE plastic is another recyclable type of plastic.
3. Polyvinyl Chloride (Vinyl and PVC)
A versatile plastic, PVC is used for pipes, window frames, credit cards, medical devices, wire insulation, vehicle interiors, and a wide variety of other household and industrial purposes. Since PVC is easily disinfected, it’s a common material used for medical applications like IV fluid bags or tubing. In addition, PVC doesn’t conduct electricity, making it a useful plastic for cables.
However, due to its high chlorine content (around 56% of PVC is chlorine), it is not a plastic material that can be recycled.
4. Low-Density Polyethylene (or LDPE)
LDPE is another common, recognizable plastic material. A lighter, clearer, and flexible type of HDPE, LDPE plastics are often used as plastic grocery bags, bubble wrap, garbage bags, produce bags, and more.
Because of its flimsier properties, it’s a difficult plastic to recycle at facilities. Though, some grocery stores or businesses will recycle LDPE plastics for reuse.
5. Polypropylene (PP)
Durable and heat-resistant, polypropylene is made into food containers for yogurt and margarine, prescription medication bottles, bottle caps, straws, and DVD/CD cases. While it’s slightly flexible, polypropylene is strong, and will retain its shape for extended periods of time.
Although PP is one of the most versatile and reusable types of plastics, it’s not commonly recycled by municipalities. Depending on where you live, you may or may not be able to easily recycle grade five plastic.
6. Polystyrene (PS, EPS, or Styrofoam)
EPS is polystyrene expanded. The result is the well-known material, styrofoam. From packing peanuts to disposable coffee cups, styrofoam and PS plastic is used both in the food and shipping industry.
But because of its bulkier, lightweight consistency, styrofoam isn’t usually recyclable. This is because it's more expensive to transport and in order to effectively recycle the material, it would need to be ground up and compacted down.
Sometimes, EPS materials like packing peanuts may be reused by shipping companies.
Grade seven acts as a catch-all for every other remaining type of plastic. This includes eyeglasses, electronics, clear plastic cutlery, and a variety of other items. Oftentimes, items marked with a seven are made from several types of plastics, and therefore are not easily recycled.
Becher Plastics: Learn More About Recycling Different Plastic Grades in Menasha, WI
Looking to recycle your plastics but you aren’t sure where to begin? Contact us today at Becher Plastics for all your plastic recycling needs.