Recycling Numbers (4-5-6-7), What They Mean, and How to Recycle Plastics (Part 2)

#4 LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene) – LDPE is translucent and flexible plastic found in many common everyday items. It is utilized for various flexible bottles and lids, as well as cables and wires.

Used For: low density polyethylene is typically used for six pack rings, trash bags, bread bags, paper towel and tissue overwrap, cling film, and squeezable bottles.

How to recycle: LDPE is often not accepted through curbside recycling programs and is thrown in the trash. It is best to check your municipal waste program rules and regulations. Look for bread and paper towels wrapped in paper packaging instead of LDPE plastic. Finding a store that focuses on refillable items can also help to reduce this plastic from going into landfills.

#5 PP (Polypropylene) – Polypropylene Plastic is a thermoplastic used in a wide variety of product applications. It is often used for containers used to hold hot liquid.

Used For: yogurt containers, syrup and medicine bottles, bottle caps, packaging tape, cereal liners, straws, hangers, cups, and juice bottles

How to recycle: PP can be recycled through some municipal curbside recycling programs. Items that contained food must be rinsed out before placing them in your recycling bins. Always check your local recycling program to ensure that PP is accepted.


#6 PS (Polystyrene) – Polystyrene is commonly known as Styrofoam and is made into rigid foam packaging products and protective shipping containers. This type of foam plastic can leach into foods and cause harm to humans. Polystyrene foam plastic is being banned in many countries around the world.


Used For: takeout containers, disposable coffee cups, shipping cartons, and egg cartons

How to recycle: Fewer and fewer curbside recycling programs accept PS plastic. Foam products tend to break down into smaller pieces. Avoid foam takeout containers or bring your own reusable containers and cups when eating out.

#7 Other – The number seven recycling symbol encompasses any type of plastic that does not fit into any other category of plastic. These types of plastic are not typically for reuse. Polycarbonate falls into this category and studies have shown BPA in these types of containers.

Used For: baby bottles, water cooler bottles, fiberglass, tupperware,  safety glasses, CDs, and headlights

How to recycle: Other category plastics are not accepted in recycling programs and it is best to avoid them all together or consult with your municipality or instructions on how to dispose of them.

By understanding what numbers and types of plastic to recycle, as well as reducing our reliance on single-use plastics through choosing refillable items and paper packaging, we can collectively make a difference. Learning how to recycle properly and consulting your municipal rules and regulations ensures that you are doing your part for our planet. 

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