Everywhere you look in America there is plastic. It's in our toys, our cars, the packaging of just about everything. It's in our clothing, our furniture, our appliances, eating utensils, medical devices and vastly more. Unfortunately, it is also clogging up the water, making our streets look filthy, and harming ocean life. Yet nearly all plastics can be easily recycled. So how can you go about doing something different? How can you even begin to make sense of all of the different plastics and what can be done with them? Omni can help solve the problem. Below is a summary of the basic groups of plastics.
Number 1 Plastics
PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate)
Found in: Bottles (such as soft drink, water and beer); mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers; oven-safe food trays.
Recycling: It is picked up through most curbside recycling programs and beverage and water bottling plants.
Recycled into: More bottles, new food-grade packaging, Polar fleece, fiber, tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling, and strapping.
PET plastic is the most common for single-use bottled beverages, because it is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to recycle. It poses low risk of leaching breakdown products. Recycling rates remain relatively low (around 20%), though the material is in high demand by remanufacturers. If you manufacture using PET or PETE, Omni can help!
Number 2 Plastics
HDPE (high density polyethylene)
Found in: Milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; motor oil containers; butter and yogurt tubs; even found in cereal box liners
Recycling: This is also picked up through most curbside recycling programs, bag manufacturing plants, and milk and water bottlers.
Recycled into: Grocery and trash bags, laundry detergent bottles, oil bottles, recycling containers, floor tile, drainage pipe, lumber, benches, doghouses, picnic tables, fencing and even pens.
HDPE is a versatile plastic with many uses, especially for packaging. It carries low risk of leaching and is readily recyclable into many goods.
Number 3 Plastics
V (Vinyl) or PVC
Found in: Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping
Recycling: This material is rarely recycled post-consumer; most manufacturing waste can be recycled if kept clean.
Recycled into: Flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats, decks, paneling, mudflaps, roadway gutters. PVC is commonly used for piping, siding and similar applications as it is tough and withstands weathering well.
Number 4 Plastics
LDPE (low density polyethylene)
Found in: Dry cleaning bags, shopping bags, tote bags, clothing, furniture, carpet, squeezable bottles; bread, frozen food.
Recycling: Trash can liners and cans, compost bins, floor tiles, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, landscaping ties are put in low rates into curbside recycling programs
Recycled into: Decks, paneling, mudflaps, roadway gutters, flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats, etc. LDPE is a flexible plastic with many applications.
Number 5 Plastics
Found in: Yogurt containers (not all), ketchup bottles, syrup bottles, caps, straws, medicine bottles
Recycling: Number 5 plastics can be recycled from most manufacturing or commercial programs.
Recycled into: Signal lights, battery cables, brooms, brushes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, rakes, bins, pallets, trays. Since polypropylene has a high melting point, it is often chosen for containers that must accept hot liquids.
Number 6 Plastics
Found in: Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases
Recycling: Number 6 plastics can be recycled through some curbside programs and most manufacturing or distribution centers if kept clean.
Recycled into: Insulation, light switch plates, egg cartons, vents, rulers, foam packing, carry-out containers. Polystyrene can be made into rigid or foam products. When it is made into foam, it is often called by its trademark name: Styrofoam!
Number 7 Plastics
Found in: Three- and five-gallon water bottles, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and computer cases, signs and displays, certain food containers, nylon, even 'bullet-proof' materials
Recycling: Number 7 plastics have traditionally not been recycled post-consumer, though some curbside programs now take them. However, if you manufacture these, Omni can help! This material from manufacturing or distribution centers can be recycled.
Recycled into: Plastic lumber, custom-made products. Note that many plastic resins that don't fit into the other categories are often grouped into number 7.