When people recycle, they protect the environment and prevent valuable materials from going to waste. However, it’s important to check the recycling codes on bottles, tubs, bags and other items. Proper sorting improves efficiency and reduces the operating costs of recycling facilities. Plastic manufacturers use seven different codes.

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#1 PETE/PET: Polyethyl tetraethylenei. Many beverages come in plastic bottles of this type. If your city doesn’t accept these bottles, you may be able to bring them to a redemption center.

#2 HDPE: High-density polyethylene. Manufacturers often use this plastic for rigid containers. Most recycling programs accept this type. You may have to recycle number two plastic bags at a grocery store.

#3 PVC/V: Polyvinyl chloride. Various chemical containers and other products contain this plastic. Only some towns and cities accept it. Remember to thoroughly rinse out any chemical residues.

Plastics 1

#4 LDPE/LLDPE: Low-density polyethylene or linear low-density polyethylene. This more flexible plastic is used in some bags and condiment bottles. Most cities recycle it.

#5 PP: Polypropylene. This relatively common plastic is found in some cereal bowls and containers for refrigerated foods. You might be able to recycle it in a major town or city.

#6 PS: Polystyrene. This material can come in the form of plastic or foam in disposable cups, trays and cartons. It is particularly harmful to the environment. In most areas, it must be discarded.

#7  OTHER: Unlike the other numbers, seven doesn’t refer to a specific plastic. The material may consist of multiple plastics or a less common type. Few cities recycle it.

Metal, glass and cardboard often lack code numbers. If you need to sort metals, use a magnet; it won’t stick to aluminum. A symbol with a phone number usually means that you must take the item to a special location to recycle it. Contact your local government for specific sorting guidelines.

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