Learn your different types of Plastics

by Berenice Westmore July 12, 2021 2 min read

We practically live in a world made of plastic!  The clothes we wear, the products and appliances we use, and the packaging we wrap our food & shopping in, are made of plastic.

Some plastics are durable, reusable, and recyclable; but others are hazardous and only good for single use. To know how to manage our plastics, we need to educate ourselves on how each plastic type differs from the other.

There are 7 major categories of plastics, each with its unique properties and uses. Keen to crank up your recycling rate? Then, keep reading here:

#1 PET | Polyethylene Terephthalate


> mainly bottles (soda & water) , some jars (food & medicine)


#2 HDPE | High-Density Polyethylene


> milk bottles, shampoo and lotion bottles


#3 PVC | Polyvinyl Chloride

energy-intensive recycling

> shoes, tiles, gutters & pipes for plumbing


#4 LDPE | Low-Density Polyethylene

energy-intensive recycling

> sandwich bags, refuse bags


#5 PP | Polypropylene


> containers, some yogurt/margarine tubs & bottle caps, some baby bottles


#6 PS | Polystyrene or Styrofoam

often recyclable; energy-intensive recycling

> beverage cups, food trays & plastic food boxes


#7 Miscellaneous Plastics

(polylactide, acrylic, polycarbonate, styrene, acrylonitrile butadiene, nylon, and fiberglass)

non-recyclable; some cases recyclable

> DVDs, some toys & glasses


The above generalises the types of plastics - to make 100% sure of the plastic type on a product, look for that triangle embossed or printed on the product, that provides the numbers above. Also, because a plastic is recyclable, it doesn't mean that your recycling collector will want to collect it for recycling - some plastics are more lightweight and/or have lower financial value, and hence a collector may prefer not to collect these - even if that material CAN be recycled.

When in doubt, just think to yourself whether you can reuse that plastic product before you throw it in the bin - if you can't, then this is Single-Use Plastic and no matter how recyclable single-use plastic is, we prefer to reduce and say NO to single use plastic.

Happy learning! :)