This is a quick guide outlining the types of plastics and plastic products that can and cannot recycled.
We also outline how to find out the requirements of recycling plastic in your area you live in.
Types Of Plastic
There are different types of plastic (read about here), but then there are also products that contain plastic that are manufactured in different ways.
A plastic type might be recyclable, but because of the way a plastic product is manufactured, it might be hard to recycle or non recyclable – a sport drink bottle can be an example of this with 3 or 4 different types of plastic.
What Plastics Can, & Cannot Be Recycled?
It depends on the capability of the recycling system in your community, suburb or area.
Generally, you can check on the government/council/recycling organisation website about what you can or cannot put in the recycling bins provided (types of plastic products). Google ‘[your city or municipality name + recycling]’.
For example – in San Francisco – they list the plastics you can recycle at https://sfrecycles.org/
The City Of Melbourne also lists what you can put in your recycling bin at https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/residents/waste-recycling/Pages/what-goes-in-your-bins.aspx
Otherwise, you can ring the recycling collection organisation and ask them directly about specific plastics and types of plastic products, and how to clean or prepare them for putting in the recycling bin.
Note that this is municipal recycling – industrial/commercial recycling can be more specialised and obviously different.
In general, these might be the types of plastics that can and can’t be recycled in developed countries:
- LD, LDPE – non recyclable
- PP – sometimes recycled depending on local context
- PP&A Fibers – sometimes recycled depending on local context
- HDPE – widely recycled
- PET – widely recycled
- PS – non recyclable
- PUT – non recyclable
- PVC – sometimes recycled depending on local context
- Other polymer types – non recyclable
- PETE or PET – recyclable
- HDPE – recyclable
- PVC – sometimes recyclable
- LDPE – sometimes recyclable
- PP – not recyclable
- PS – not recyclable
- Other plastics like nylon and styrene – not recyclable
And in terms of plastic products:
- Plastic Bags – not recyclable
- Straws – not recyclable
- Coffee Cups – a special machine is needed to recycle them