Know your plastics

February 17, 2015

A simple guide to Plastic Recycling Symbols

The world of plastic is complicated: there are many types and they’re very different from each other. Two things they all have in common: they’re made from fossil fuels, and they persist for very long times in our land and marine environments. So it’s really important to recycle them.

An excellent overview of the classes of plastic, what they’re found in and what they’re recycled into can be found here. From that article, a few key points:

  • Even though we call it ‘recycling’, most plastic is actually ‘downcycled’ into products of lesser quality or functionality – part of a journey that eventually, alas, usually still ends at a landfill.
  • Some materials may have a recycling symbol, but in actuality are rarely recycled (IE class 3, vinyl or PVC)
  • Class 7 is not really a class; it’s a catch-all for anything that doesn’t fit in the first six classes. It’s often accepted by recycling programs, but only to avoid confusing consumers; it typically ends up in the landfill.

So please Reduce, Reuse and Recycle plastics, in that order.

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