What Do The Plastic Recycling Symbols Mean?
We have all seen them, the little triangular plastic recycling symbols made of arrows with either a number or a series of letters in them, but what are they and what do they mean?
Originally devised by the Plastics Industry Association in 1988 these plastic recycling symbols started appearing on UK plastic packaging some years afterwards, after a European directive.
What Are The Plastic Recycling Symbols For?
What Are The Plastic Recycling Numbers?
Common Abbreviation(s): PET, PETE, APET
Common Uses: Drinks bottles, blister packaging, strapping.
Recycled? Yes. Widely recycled via curbside collection schemes. Deposit return scheme currently being considered for PET bottles.
High Density Polyethylene
Common Abbreviation(s): HDPE, PE-HD
Common Uses: Milk bottles, chemical bottles, 5p carrier bags
Recycled? Yes. HDPE bottles are widely recycled via curbside collection schemes. HDPE film and bags not usually collected curbside but all forms of HDPE are widely recycled from industrial sources.
Common Abbreviation(s): PVC, V, U-PVC
Common Uses: Pipes, bottles, window profiles, blister packaging, flooring. (largely replaced by PVC in packaging applications).
Recycled? Not usually collected curbside from residential properties but widely recycled from more industrial based sources.
Low Density Polyethylene
Common Abbreviation(s): LDPE, PE-LD
Common Uses: Plastic bags, tubing, shrink-wrap.
Recycled? Not usually collected curbside from residential properties but widely recycled from more industrial based sources. Baled LDPE film and shrink-wrap is one of the most commonly traded plastic commodities.
Common Abbreviation(s): PP, PPN
Common Uses: Automotive parts, multi use food containers, strapping, FIBC’s (big bags), tote boxes, margarine tubs.
Recycled? Curbside collections varies depending on local authority. Highly sought after and widely recycled in the industrial market.
Common Abbreviation(s): PS, HIPS, EPS, GPPS
Common Uses: CD cases, plastic cutlery, yoghurt pots. In its expanded form (EPS) it is used for insulation board, packaging, takeaway cups (ie. styrofoam)
Recycled? Curbside collections varies depending on local authority. Strong secondary market for recycled PS.