Full guide to recycling codes | what the numbers mean | uses and how to recycle
In our first article we will explain what are the meanings behind the numbers
Have you thought about the meaning of the recycling codes you see every day? So after reading this article, you will finally understand these codes!
The first group - The plastics (1-7, ABS, PA)
The plastics group is the most interesting, there are many types of plastic that we call in one name: "Plastic", but every one of them has their particular qualities and characteristics.
The most you go up in the numbers from 1 to 7, the more the plastic is harder to recycle and more dangerous.
(There will be a tutorial soon about how to avoid toxic plastics and plastics in general)
- PET or PETE - Polyethylene terephthalate 🟠
PET(E) is the most common thermoplastic polymer, used for synthetic fibres ±60%, with bottle production accounting for about ±30% of global demand. Polyester makes up about 18% of world polymer production and is the fourth-most-produced polymer.
The number 1 PET(E) plastic is common in polyester fibres, soft drink bottles, food containers and plastic bottles.
PET is completely recyclable. More than 680 million kilograms (1.5 billion pounds) of used PET bottles and containers are recovered in the United States each year for recycling.
All of the recycling services recycle PET(A) plastic.
- PEHD or HDPE - High-density polyethylene 🟢
PEHD (HDPE) is a thermoplastic polymer produced from the monomer ethylene. He has high strength-to-density ratio and density of .94-.96, which making him float on water.
The number 2 PEHD (HDPE) plastic is common in plastic milk containers, plastic bags, bottle caps, trash cans, oil cans, plastic lumber, toolboxes and supplement containers.
PEHD is recyclable. According to the EPA, recycling 10 plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a laptop for over 25 hours. Can you imagine how much energy your facility can preserve by engaging in HDPE recycling?
All of the recycling services recycle PEHD plastic.
- PVC - Polyvinyl chloride 🔴
PVC is the world's third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer. About 40 million tons of PVC are produced each year. PVC comes in two basic forms: rigid (RPVC) and flexible. Most of the pipes are made from it.
The number 3 PVC plastic is common in plumbing pipes, window frames, bottles for chemicals and flooring.
PVC is one of the toxic plastics that you should avoid.
PVC is very difficult to recycle, and as a result, very little of it is collected and processed in recycling facilities. Made from many different formulations composed of various additives, PVC products cannot easily be separated for recycling, which makes breaking vinyl products down into their original components nearly impossible.
- PELD or LDPE - Low-density polyethylene 🟢
PELD (LDPE) is a thermoplastic made from the monomer ethylene.
The number 4 PELD (LDPE) plastic is common in plastic bags, zip lock bags, buckets, squeeze bottles, plastic tubes and chopping boards.
PELD (LDPE) is fully recyclable.
Not all the recycling services recycle PELD plastic.
- PP - Polypropylene 🟢
PP is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of products. it's often used in packaging and labeling.
The number 5 PP plastic is common in flower pots, bumpers, car interior trim, industrial fibres, carry-out beverage cups, microwavable food containers and DVD keep cases.
PP is fully recyclable.
Most of the recycling services not recycling PP plastic.
- PS - Polystyrene 🔴
PS is a synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer made from the monomer styrene.
The number 6 PS plastic is common in toys, video cassettes, ashtrays, trunks, beverage/food coolers, beer cups, wine and champagne cups, carry-out food containers and Styrofoam.
PS is the second of the toxic plastics that you should avoid.
Recycling PS plastic is less common than some other types, but it can be recycled.
Most of the recycling services not recycling PP plastic.
- O (OTHER) - All other plastics 🟠
This type of plastics is a mystery one, it can be a nontoxic one, but it can also be toxic and hard to recycle. or it can be a mix of plastics. This one is a mystery box, you don't know what you get from it. To avoid that, don't use or buy products that are made from plastic-type 7 or that doesn't have a recycling code on it.
- ABS - Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene 🟢
ABS is a common thermoplastic polymer. ABS is most popular in 3d printers.
The ABS plastic is common in monitor/TV cases, coffee makers, cell phones, calculators, most computer plastic, Lego bricks, most FFF 3D printed parts that are not bioplastic such as PLA.
ABS is fully recyclable.
Most of the recycling services not recycling ABS plastic.
- PA - Polyamide 🟢
A polyamide is a macromolecule with repeating units linked by amide bonds.
The PA plastic is common in nylon like toothbrush bristles, socks and stockings.
Is PA fully recyclable - N/A
Is recycling services recycling PA plastic - N/A
The second group - The batteries (8-14)
The numbers from 8 to 14 are all batteries, here are some small examples of where you can find all of them. Please contact your local recycler to know what batteries they are recycling
- Lead - Lead–acid battery
Most common in car batteries.- Alkaline - Alkaline battery
Most common in TV Remote batteries and flashlight batteries.- 10 - NiCD -Nickel–cadmium battery
Most common in older batteries- NiMH - Nickel–metal hydride battery
- Li - Lithium battery
Most common in everyday devices like cell phone batteries, computer batteries and camera batteries- SO(Z) - Silver-oxide battery
Most common in small devices where you need to save space.- 14 - CZ - Zinc–carbon battery
Most common in flashlight batteries.
The third group - The papers (20-22)
There's not much to talk about paper, there only 3 types of paper:
- 20 - Corrugated fiberboard or in other words cardboard, most common in cardboard boxes.
- 21 - Non-corrugated fiberboard or in other words paperboard, most common in cereal and snack boxes, but also medicaments.- 22 - Paper, most common in a newspaper, books, magazines, wrapping paper, wallpaper, paper bags, and paper straws, a great alternative to plastic straws.
The fourth group - The metals (40-41)
There are two types of metal: the first one is strong, this is the "Steel", used in food cans. The second one is more flexible, used for soft drink cans and deodorant cans.
- FE - Steel
-ALU - Aluminium
Here are some facts about aluminium:
- Aluminium cans can be recycled and put back onto the shelf at your local grocery store in just about 2 months.
- Recycling aluminium can help to save a great deal of energy enough to power your laptop for about 25 hours!
- You can recycle aluminium over and over again, and there is no limit to it.
- If you throw away your aluminium cans, they can stay in that can form for up to 500 years or more- so recycling is the way to go.
Fifth group - The biomatter/
organic (50-51, 60-69)
This group is only made from organic or biomatter material. Most of them can be recycled or composed.
- FOR - Wood
- FOR - Cork, most common in bottle stoppers, place mats and construction material.- COT - Cotton, most common in towels, t-shirts, cotton buds/
swabs and cotton pads.
- TEX - Jute, most common in clothing industry.- 62-69 TEX - Other Textiles
Sixth group - The glasses (70-79)
- GL - Clear Glass, used in jars.
- GL - Green Glass, used in a wine glass.- GL - Brown Glass, used in beers.
- GL - Dark Sort Glass.- GL - Light Sort Glass.
- GL - Light Leaded Glass, used in televisions, high-end electronics display glass-like in calculators.- GL - Leaded Glass, used in older televisions, ashtrays and older beverage holders.
- GL - Copper Mixed/Copper Backed Glass, used in electronics, LCD heads, clocks and watches.- GL - Silver Mixed/Silver Backed Glass, used in mirrors.
- GL - Gold Mixed/Gold-Backed Glass, used in computer glass.
Seventh group - The composites (80-99)
- PapPet - Paper + Plastic, used in consumer packaging, pet food bags, cold store grocery bags, Icecream containers, cardboard cans and disposable plates.
- 82 - Paper and fibreboard/- 83 - Paper and fibreboard/
- C/PAP (or PapAl) - Paper and cardboard/- 85 - Paper and fibreboard/
plastic/ aluminium, used in many products like liquid storage containers, juice boxes, cardboard cans, cigarette pack liners, gum wrappers, cartridge shells for blanks, fireworks colouring material and Tetra Brik. Plastic/ Aluminium/ Tinplate.
- CSL (Card-Stock Laminate) - Biodegradable plastic, used in laminating material, special occasion cards, bookmarks, business cards, flyers/- 90 - Plastics/
advertising, also used in biodegradable bags in grocery shops. Aluminium, used in plastic toothpaste tubes and some vacuum-packed coffee bags.
- 91 - Plastic/Tinplate- 92 - Plastic/
- 95 - Glass/- 96 - Glass/
- 97 - Glass/- 98 - Glass/
Tinplate Miscellaneous metals
Know what the recycling codes on products mean is very important as a first step to becoming greener, hope you liked this article. Meets in the next article.