Are All Plastics Recyclable? —Part 1

Colorful recycling bins

Seven Types of Plastic

When you start getting into recycling, you learn you must separate your recyclables —you know, glass, plastic, aluminum, paper, etc.— so you start throwing all your plastic into one bag, all your paper into another, and so on. The thing is, not everything is recyclable.

When it comes to plastic products, not all of them are recyclable, or even reusable. It all depends on how they’re classified. Every plastic product should be stamped with a chasing arrows triangle with a number in it. Each number indicates the type of plastic it is and whether or not it can be recycled or reused. Let’s talk about the first four standard classifications of plastic:


Polyethylene Terephthalate is very frequently used in consumer products and is found in soft drinks and water bottles, fruit juice containers and cooking oil bottles. It’s meant as a single-use plastic, but it is recyclable and can be turned into new PET bottles, as well as into textiles like fleece, carpets, pillow stuffing, and the like.


High-Density Polyethylene is used in harder plastic products such as milk jugs, household cleaning products, and shampoo bottles. This type of plastic is not easily worn down by exposure to sunlight and high or low temperatures. HDPE is both reusable and recyclable.The Seven Types of Plastic Part 1

3. PVC

Polyvinyl Chloride is a soft and flexible plastic used in the creation of blister packaging, toys for children and pets, food wrapping, plastic pipes, computer cables, garden hoses, and parts for plumbing. PVC plastic is considered poisonous since it has a lot of toxins that can be released throughout its existence. Not even 1% of this material is recycled, but some PVC products can be repurposed, as long as they are not used for children’s use or food.


Low-Density Polyethylene is what’s used to produce bags to package bread, squeezable bottles, and shopping bags. Is not considered to be as toxic as other plastics. LDPE is not commonly recycled, but when it is, it’s used for plastic lumber garbage can liners and similar products.


The more you know about plastics, the more you’re equipped to make better choices that are safe for you and your family, as well as how to properly classify the plastic you use for your recycling efforts. Stay tuned to learn more about the last three standard types of plastic in our next post.

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