Have you ever looked at a plastic bottle and seen a triangle with number? Ever wondered what they mean?
Although, it would be better to try to avoid using plastic altogether, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a little guide to help.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). What is it used for? – Soft drinks bottles, food packaging. This plastic is easy to recycle
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). What is it used for? – Milk cartons, cleaning products, yoghurt pots. This plastic is easy to recycle
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). What is it used for? Pipes, Electrical cables, insulation. This plastic is difficult to recycle.
Low-density polyethylene (LDPE). What is it used for? Shopping bags, wraps for magazines. It can be recycled…just about.
Polyethylene (PP). What is it used for? Butter and margarine tubs, food trays, carpet fibres. Easy to recycle.
Polystyrene (PS). What is it used for? Plastic cutlery, takeaway packaging, insulation. Difficult to recycle.
This is the ‘other’ category. This will include the other packaging that is incredibly difficult to recycle; crisp packets, salad bags
You may have noticed that the text for each of these are separated into three colours; Green, Orange and Red, this determines the ease or recycling that plastic.
Green – Recyclable
Orange – Recycled at specialist points
Red – Not easy to recycle and will most probably end up in landfill
One important aspect to bear in mind that if something is easy to recycle, this is more likely if it isn’t attached to a layer of another type of plastic. Mixing plastics comes with a new set of problems.
The best thing to do is to reduce the amount plastic you buy, where you can.