There are seven different grades of plastic, known as the “plastic identification codes.” The code marked on any product within a triangle indicates which grade of plastic is in use.
These codes, represented by a number inside of a triangle of arrows, are used to help identify the type of plastic an item is made from, and are intended to aid in recycling and waste management. The seven codes are:
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE):
It is a clear, strong, and lightweight plastic that is commonly used to make bottles for beverages such as water, soda, and juice. It is also used in some food packaging and can be recycled into fibers for clothing or carpeting.
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE):
It is a strong, opaque plastic that is commonly used to make containers for milk, water, and detergents. It is also used to make plastic bags, pipes, and outdoor furniture. It is considered a safe and stable plastic and can be recycled into a variety of products such as plastic lumber, containers, and crates.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC):
It is a strong, rigid, and heat-resistant plastic that is commonly used to make pipes, vinyl flooring, and wire insulation. It can release harmful chemicals when exposed to high temperatures, so it is not considered a food-safe plastic and is often not recyclable.
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE):
It is a flexible, strong, and durable plastic that is commonly used to make plastic bags, wraps, and films. It is not as widely recycled as some other plastics but can be made into compost bins, paneling, and other items.
It is a strong, stiff, and heat-resistant plastic that is commonly used to make food containers, margarine tubs, and yogurt cups. It can also be used in medical and laboratory equipment, and can be recycled into brooms, trays, and other items.
It is a lightweight, rigid plastic that is commonly used to make disposable foam products such as foam plates and cups, meat trays, and egg cartons. It is not widely recycled and can be difficult to manage in the environment as it breaks down into small beads that can pollute the water and harm wildlife.
Miscellaneous plastics (such as polycarbonate, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, and more):
These are plastics that do not fit into the other categories and are not as commonly used. They may have similar properties to the other plastics and some may have a higher risk of leaching harmful chemicals. They can be recycled into other items depending on their type.