If you are an avid soda drinker, then you have probably noticed the small recycle symbol on the bottom of your plastic soda bottle. These symbols have different meanings. They help both product owners and recycling centers know how to go about recycling the product and optimize waste management. Ready to find out what each symbol means?

Let’s have a quick look at a chart:


Notice that each symbol has it’s own number and letters. Number 1, 3 and 6 are highlighted because it is debated that those plastics contain unhealthy toxins that can leak into the food stored inside. You need to be aware that there may be possible side-effects associated with certain plastics.

Number 1 – PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

These make up some of the most common plastics out there including soft drinks and water bottles, ketchup, spray bottles, peanut butter containers and mouthwash bottles. Number 1 plastics are one of the most commonly recycled product and can usually be picked up on curbside in most areas.

Some of the products that number 1 plastics are recycled into are furniture, carpet, paneling, tote bags, straps and new containers.


Number 2 – HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

You can find this recycle symbol everywhere you look. Products include shampoo and conditioner bottles, household cleaner bottles, bleach, motor oil bottles, butter containers, milk jugs and juice containers. These products are easily recyclable are are available for curbside pickup in many areas.

These are often recycled back into laundry detergent bottles, drainage pipe, benches, doghouses, picnic tables, motor oil bottles and pens!

Number 3 – V (Vinyl)

These are a little less common and have more widespread uses such as wire jacketing, siding, medical supplies and equipment, window cleaner bottles.

They are not often recycled, but when they are they can be turned into home furnishings like paneling, decks, gutters and cables.

Number 4 – LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

This type of plastic is starting to be more widely accepted as a recyclable material. It can be found in furniture, carpet, squeeze bottles and a variety of plastic bags. Like Vinyl, it is rarely recycled.

Number 5 – PP (Polypropylene)

This recycle symbol means that the product is harder and less flexible. It has a high boiling point, which makes it suitable for hot liquids. It is found in straws, certain ketchup and mayonnaise bottles, syrup bottles and medicine bottles. Can you imagine a straw that melts when sipping your coffee or hot cocoa?

It is recycled often and can be picked up via curbside pickup in most areas. It can be easily recycled into battery cables, broom heads, brushes, bins, trays, ice scrapers and much more.

Number 6 – PS (Polystyrene)

We use and see this type of plastic, also known as Styrofoam, all the time. The last time you used it was probably when you ordered carryout and scarfed down that delicious hamburger and fries. You will see number 6 plastic in disposable plates, cups and silverware, egg cartons and meat trays. It is commonly accepted for recycling on curbside.

It has been debated recently that Polystyrene can release unhealthy toxins into food. Some restaurants and fast food places are beginning to move away from using number 6 plastic for carry-out containers.

Number 7 – PC (Polycarbonate)

There are widespread uses for this peculiar recycle symbol. Products that use this are sunglasses, DVDs, protective cases for electronics, signs, Culligan bottles and more. Basically any plastic resins that don’t fit in the other categories are thrown into the “Other” category for use.

Start Recycling

You can start recycling today by saving your empty plastic bottles and setting them out for curbside pickup. Contact your local recycling company, Big Spring Environmental for the Northern Alabama region, and ask them what your recycling options are. Remember that the lower the number in the recycle symbol, the more readily recyclable the item is. The higher the number, the less frequent it is recycled.