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7 Types of Plastics and Recycling Symbols Everyone Should Know

Publish On 30, Aug 2023 | 7 Types of Plastics and Recycling Symbols Everyone Should Know

Plastic is a material we use in our everyday lives. Often, after use, we dispose of it, perhaps without realizing or forgetting that these used plastics could potentially be recycled. This can usually be discerned from the numbers and recycling symbols typically printed on the packaging.

Therefore, we would like to invite everyone to gain a better understanding of plastics and to learn how to sort them properly for recycling. By doing so, we can significantly reduce the volume of waste our planet has to confront. To start, let’s familiarize ourselves with the types of plastic categorized based on their thermal properties.

Plastics are divided into two main types:

Thermosetting Plastic

Characteristics: When exposed to heat, it does not soften and cannot be remelted. It offers greater heat and chemical resistance than thermoplastic.


Examples: Melamine, electrical parts, product coatings, synthetic rubber, etc.


Although challenging to recycle, technological advancements have made recycling of some types possible.


Characteristics: When exposed to heat, it softens and can be remelted and reshaped multiple times.


Examples: Plastic bags, food packaging boxes, milk gallons, water pipes, etc.


Most thermoplastics are recyclable.

Checking on plastic products, we will notice that they have numbers and recycling symbols typically printed on the packaging. These are intended to guide the classification of the plastic materials used. So, let’s learn about the seven types of plastics and familiarize ourselves with items made from each type while also understanding their recycling symbols.


7 Types of Plastics


Plastic products in everyday life are divided into seven types:

Plastic Type 1 – PET or PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

Properties: Clear, rigid, lightweight, acid-resistant, and offers excellent protection against oxygen and carbon dioxide permeation.

Examples: Drinking water bottles, soda bottles, and clear fruit boxes.


Plastic Type 2 – HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

Properties: Opaque, extremely strong, resilient, and resistant to chemicals.

Examples: Shampoo bottles, laundry detergent bottles, milk jugs, opaque heat bags, and carry bags.


Plastic Type 3 – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

Properties: Comes in various forms, from rigid to soft.

Examples: Food wrap films, artificial leather, water pipes, and window and door frames.


Plastic Type 4 – LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)

Properties: Soft, resilient, flexible, and good resistance to low temperatures.
Examples: Bread bags, ziplock bags, diaper packaging bags, and sanitary napkin bags.


Plastic Type 5 – PP (Polypropylene)

Properties: Resilient, heat-resistant, and good moisture barrier.
Examples: Microwaveable food containers, water bottle caps, yogurt cups, and straws.


Plastic Type 6 – PS (Polystyrene)

Properties: Comes in foam form, is fluffy, and lightweight; some types are clear and brittle.
Examples: Foam food boxes, thin plastic cups, and sponges.

Plastic Type 7 – Other

Properties: Other types of plastic not included in the above six categories.
Examples: Nylon, acrylic, and melamine.



Recyclable plastic: a prospect that delights consumers.

Types 1-6 plastics can be recycled, depending on their condition. They should not be mixed materials, and certain types have recycling limitations. For example, colored PET bottles are more challenging to recycle than clear ones because it requires an additional step of color separation to achieve recycled plastic resins with the same standard properties.
The most commonly recycled and easily sellable plastics are Type 1 PET and Type 2 HDPE. This is due to less contamination, ease of collection, and their weight.
Examples of recycled plastics: Recycled #1 PET can be transformed into synthetic fibers for clothing. Recycled #2 HDPE and #5 PP can be turned into containers, baskets, boxes, and garbage bags.

Some plastics can’t be recycled but can still be beneficial if managed properly:

Certain types of plastic, particularly those contaminated with chemicals or dirt, cannot be recycled. Therefore, the plastics collected for recycling should not be mixed with food scraps or chemical substances.


Multilayer films, like snack bags, fabric softener pouches, and milk boxes, cannot be recycled as they cannot be separated by hand. If melted down for reuse, these plastics result in uneven surfaces or do not retain their original properties due to differing melting points across the layers.


Bioplastics, biodegradable, and compostable plastics cannot be recycled as they must be specifically disposed of in composting facilities for decomposition. Therefore, they should not be mixed with regular plastics.


These plastics can be managed by converting them into Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) for electricity production, as plastics and rubber have a high calorific value. You can deposit such materials at N15 Technology and Eastern Energy Plus.


We encourage everyone to gain a deeper understanding of plastics. This will lead to better decisions in using and managing plastic materials, promoting increased plastic recycling and reducing waste that harms the environment. Do not forget to share this information with those around you and set a positive example.


#ResourceMaximization, #CorrectSorting, #ProperDisposal
Plastic Waste Can Be Recycled



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