There are seven basic types of plastic. You can tell what kind of plastic a container is made of by looking at the recycling symbol on the bottom:
#1: PET(E) - Polytethylene terephthalate
#2: HDPE -High Density Polyethylene
#3: PVC - Polyvinyl Chloride
#4: LDPE - Low Density Polyethylene
#5: PP - Polypropylene
#6: PS - Polystyrene
7: Other (mixed plastics)
Not all plastics can be recycled in all communities. Check with your municipal recycling coordinator to see which plastics are accepted in YOUR community!
In 1995, Americans recycled 9.5% of all plastic packaging, including 26% of all plastic bottles.
Approximately 19.0 million tons of plastic waste was generated in 1995.
The "#1" (PET) and "#2" (HDPE) plastics are most commonly recycled. Markets for other plastics are currently limited; so most recycling programs do not accept them.
#1 Plastics: PET, or Polytehylene terephthalate
The most common use for recycled PET is for textiles. PET can also be spun to make fiber filling for pillows, quilts and jackets.
Five PET bottles yield enough fiber for one extra large T-shirt, one square foot of carpet, or enough fiber fill to fill one ski jacket.
takes 25 two-liter PET bottles to make a sweater.
It takes 35 two-liter PET bottles to make enough fiberfill for a sleeping bag.
Half of all polyester carpet made in the U.S. is made from recycled PET.
The first PET bottle was recycled in 1977.
Approximately 25% of all PET bottles were recycled in 1996.
The average household generates 17 pounds of PET bottles annually.
#2 Plastics: HDPE, or High Density Polyethylene
HDPE can be recycled into plastic pipes, plastic lumber, flower pots, trashcans, or bottles used for non-food applications (for example, soaps).
More than 310,000 tons of HDPE was made from recycled materials in 1996.
The HDPE recycling rate in 1996 was 13.9 percent.