What Do the Different Plastic Recycling Symbols Mean?

Have you ever looked at plastic products and wondered what all the different symbols mean? You’ll often see a number in what looks like a recycling logo; this is known as a Plastic Resin Identification or plastic resin code.

The world generates 381 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, all of which falls into one of these seven categories.

Resin code on a plastic container made of Polypropylene

Source: https://science.howstuffworks.com – Resin code on a plastic container made of Polypropylene

With the amount of plastic waste set to double by 2034, it’s important to know which plastics can be recycled.

All of the resin codes on plastic products

Whether it is a soft drink bottle, plastic piping, styrofoam or plastic straws, all plastic products will be associated with one of these plastic resin codes.1. PET

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE or PET) is the most commonly used thermoplastic polymer throughout the world.

Polyethylene terephthalate is a naturally transparent plastic widely used for soft drinks bottles, fibre for making clothing (polyester), and food and drinks packaging.

Some of its most important characteristics include water resistance. It’s inexpensive, doesn’t react with food or water, and is lightweight and easy to recycle.

 PET/PETE products can be recycled.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Symbol

Uses of PET

How to Recycle PET?

What is PET Recycled Into?


High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is a thermoplastic made using petroleum.

HDPE is a versatile plastic with a wide range of uses. In a lot of cases, it is a very cost-effective option for replacing metal or glass.

As one of the most versatile thermoplastics around, High-Density Polyethylene is used in a wide variety of applications, such as plastic bottles, milk jugs, butter tubs, bleach bottles, bottle caps, and piping.

 HDPE products can be recycled.

High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Symbol

Uses of HDPE

How to Recycle HDPE?

What is HDPE Recycled Into?

3. PVC

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is the third most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer due to its wide range of applications.

It is a cost-effective and versatile thermoplastic most commonly known to be used in the building and construction industry to make door and window frames.

PVC is also found in a wide range of industrial and everyday applications, including buildings, transport, packaging, electrical and healthcare applications.

 Most PVC products cannot be recycled.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Symbol

Uses of PVC

Why Can’t PVC be Recycled?


Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Like HDPE, Low-Density Polyethylene is a thermoplastic made from ethylene. However, LDPE has significantly different properties when compared to HDPE.

Low-Density Polyethene’s key characteristics are its durability and flexibility. It does not release harmful chemicals, doesn’t break easily, and is resistant to acids, bases, and oils. Because of these different properties, it has several other applications compared to HDPE.

LDPE is used often used in a wide range of different types of packaging and containers.

 LDPR products can sometimes be recycled.

Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) Symbol

Uses of LDPE

How to Recycle LDPE?

What is LDPE Recycled Into?

5. PP

Polypropylene (PP)

Polypropylene (PP), also known as polypropene, is a tough, rigid, crystalline thermoplastic produced from propene.

Polypropylene is one of those most versatile polymers available with applications, both as a plastic and as a fibre. It is most often used in plastic products in which toughness, flexibility, lightweight, and heat resistance is required.

It’s generally considered to be one of the safer plastics.

 PP products can sometimes be recycled.

Polypropylene (PP) Symbol

Uses of PP

How to Recycle PP?

What is PP Recycled Into?

6. PS

Polystyrene (PS)

Polystyrene is a versatile plastic used to make many consumer goods.

It is rigid, brittle, relatively hard and has good electrical properties. However, the negatives of Polystyrene are that it has poor chemical and UV resistance.

In its most recognisable form, Polystyrene is made into “expanded polystyrene” used in packaging and in the building and construction industry due to its insulating properties.

 PS products can sometimes be recycled.

Polystyrene (PS) Symbol

Uses of PS

How to Recycle PS?

7. Other

Other & Miscellaneous

There’s no long, fancy name or technical term for this plastic because plastic with the no. 7 resin code is more of a miscellaneous category.

Items in this category are all other products that don’t fit into the main six types. For example, plastics in this category can be made up of any combination of 1-6 or another, less commonly used plastic.

 Other plastic products can sometimes be recycled.

Other Plastic Types Symbol

Examples of Other Plastics

December 10, 2021