Recycling & Waste Management

Recycle Plastic Without Going Spastic! - Take Some Action

Recycling programs around the country vary in what plastics they accept. Often, particular programs only take certain numbered plastics. The numbers are usually printed on the bottom of the bottle in the middle of the recycling symbol of three arrows shaped in a triangle. The most common ones accepted are #1 and #2. But, other programs take plastics shaped a certain way like the City of Seattle, which accepts plastics that have a “neck and shoulders.” Then, there are places like plastic lumber manufacturers that will usually take any kind of plastic. This is why it’s important to know your plastic!

  • Click here to begin learning your plastics with Earth911.

  • Click here for more details about each kind of plastic, including facts on them, tips for recycling them, and what products they are made into.

  • Finally, you should learn the different levels of health risks associated with each type of plastic. The Green Guide explains which plastics are better than others at the bottom of this page.
As you learn about your numbered recyclable plastics, pay close attention to #3, polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as PVC. Not only is PVC toxic to humans, but it’s also toxic to most recycling programs, according to Washington Toxics Coalition. It is only recyclable if you can find a recycling center that actually takes them. But, for the most part, recycling programs avoid PVC because if even a single item of PVC contaminates a normal recycling stream of PET, for example, it can make 50,000 PET bottles unrecyclable, according to Washington Toxics Coalition. Therefore, the best course of action as a conscious recycler is to Reduce how many PVC products you buy in the first place! This is where being conscious of the three Rs makes a huge difference.

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