What do the numbers & symbols on plastic mean?
While householders are encouraged to recycle as many items as possible, it's important to remember that not all plastics which show the plastic symbol (see the table below) mean that the item is automatically recyclable in a kerbside collection system.
If you use a yellow-lid bin for recycling, a handy tip to remember is that if it the plastic container:
- holds its shape when crumpled, and/or
- would hold liquid
then that item is suitable for recycling and can be placed into your yellow lid bin.
All rigid plastics labelled from 1 – 6 can be put in the kerbside recycling bin. However, lightweight polystyrene, such as used for meat trays, packaging (including foam packing 'peanuts') and hot drink cups should not be put in kerbside recycle bins.
Here's a quick guide to which plastics can and cannot be placed in your yellow lid recycling bin:
Accepted in kerbside collection?
Type of plastic: High Density Polyethylene HDPE
Characteristics: Very common plastic, usually white or coloured.
Uses for this plastic: Milk and cream bottles, shampoo bottles, cleaning products.
Type of plastic: Polyethylene Terephthalate PET
Characteristics: Clear, tough, solvent resistant plastic, often used as a fibre.
Uses for this plastic: Carbonated soft drink bottles, detergent bottles.
Type of plastic: Polyvinyl Chloride PVC
Characteristics: Hard, rigid plastic, may be clear.
Uses for this plastic: Clear cordial and juice bottles.
Type of plastic: Low Density Polyethylene LDPE
Characteristics: Soft, flexible plastic - waxy surface.
Uses for this plastic: Squeeze bottles.
Type of plastic: Polypropylene PP
Characteristics: Hard but still flexible plastic.
Uses for this plastic: Ice cream containers and lids, plastic take away containers.
Type of plastic: Polystyrene PS
Characteristics: Clear, glassy, rigid, brittle plastic.
Uses for this plastic: Yoghurt containers and margarine/ butter containers.
Type of plastic: OTHER
Characteristics & Uses: Includes all other plastics and soft plastics including acrylic and nylon.
Type of plastic: Expanded Polystyrene WPS
Characteristics: Foamed, light weight, energy absoring, heat insulating.
Uses for this plastic: Packaging, meat trays, hot drink cups, foam packing 'peanuts'.