Keeping track of which plastics should be recycled in a municipality can be difficult for residents. To increase participation in recycling programs, it is helpful to make the information readily available and easy to understand. For example, here is an easy-to-use table listing different types of plastic:

  1. Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE)
    Soda, condiment, mouthwash, peanut butter, jelly bottles. 
    Commonly recycled. 
     
  2. High density polyethylene (HDPE)
    Milk, water, juice, shampoo, and household cleaner bottles. 
    Commonly recycled. 
     
  3. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
    Rigid plastic packaging, shrink wrap. 
    Not commonly recycled. 
     
  4. Low density polyethylene (LDPE)
    Grocery and garbage bags; container lids; squeezable bottles; bags from newspapers, bread, produce, etc.
    Growing recycling market. 
     
  5. Polypropylene (PP)
    Yogurt, margarine, and butter containers; takeout meal boxes; medicine bottles and caps. 
    Growing recycling market. 
     
  6. Polystyrene foam (PS)
    Styrofoam™ takeout containers, meat packaging trays, packing materials, food service products.
    Not commonly recycled. 
     
  7. Other
    All other plastics, mixed plastics, multi-layer materials
    Not commonly recycled

Confusion may occur when municipal recycling regulations change due to policy updates, upgrades to waste management facilities, new technology, etc. Here are a few ideas for effectively communicating with residents when these changes occur:

  • Include pamphlets or refrigerator magnets about recycling in welcome packet for new homeowners/renters.
  • Partner with grocery stores and other local businesses to display updatable signage near the point of purchase.
  • Post updatable signage on public recycling containers in public locations such as parks, schools, public transportation stations, etc.

About the Author

Marueen Schneider

Maureen A. Schneider
Environmental Intern

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