♻️ Recycling By the Numbers

Recycling By the Numbers

Plastics are very particular:  They gotta go where they gotta go.  That’s why they all have their tiny resin identification code - the small number from 1-7 inside the triangle recycling symbol - to help recyclers know exactly what type of plastic they are for the sorting process.  

If you’re not up on your codes, the extra effort you make to recycle may still land plastics in a landfill, rather than recycled and reborn. We want to help you do right by your recyclables.  Remember, we’re in this together!  So let’s run the numbers: 

Plastic No. 1 - PET or PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate): 
The most frequently recycled plastic in the US and worldwide. 

Find it in water and soda bottles, peanut butter jars, microwaveable food trays, and salad dressing bottles and our number one: ZenWTR bottles!  They’re made from 100% recycled certified ocean-bound plastic, so it’s already been recycled once!  Close the loop and recycle it again!

♻️ Is No. 1 Recyclable?  YES!
PET/PETE can usually be picked up through most curbside recycling programs...

BUT...  remember to rinse before you recycle! Containers must be emptied and cleaned or they'll contaminate other recyclables.  When it comes to caps on plastic bottles, you need to check with your local recycling program. Those that accept them may ask you to leave them on or separate them and some will ask you to throw them away.

ZenWTR’s caps can be left on when recycled. (You’re Welcome!)

Plastic No. 2 – HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene):  

The stiffer plastic commonly used for milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, household cleaning containers, and some shopping bags.

♻️ Is No. 2 Recyclable?  YES!  
HDPE can usually be picked up through most curbside recycling programs...

BUT... flimsy plastic like grocery bags and plastic wraps usually can’t be collected curbside.  However, most grocery stores have bins to collect them and will recycle them for you! 

Plastic No. 3 – Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), and Vinyl (V):  

With its strength, clarity, and performance, PVC and V are best known for use in pipes and siding. This plastic weathers well and resists grease, oils, and other chemicals. 

♻️ Is No. 3 Recyclable?  NO
PVC is not usually recyclable...

BUT... some plastic lumber organizations may accept it.  Ask your local waste management company how to dispose of PVC

Plastic No. 4 –Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE):

Used mainly in film applications due to its flexibility and transparency.  Find it in dry cleaner, frozen food, bread and shopping bags, squeezable bottles and lids, shrink wraps and garbage liners.  

♻️ Is No. 4 Recyclable? YES & NO
LDPE is rarely accepted for recycling in curbside recycling programs, but there are collection sites that will recycle it. 

Contact your garbage collection authority to see if they accept No. 4 plastic. You can also return No. 4 shopping bags to your grocery stores collection bin (gather them up with your No. 2 bags). Some dry cleaners accept returned No. 4 plastic dry cleaning film.  

Plastic No. 5 – Polypropylene (PP):

This plastic’s high melting point makes it great for containing hot liquids.  Find it in some yogurt and syrup containers, takeout meal packaging, medicine bottles, straws and bottle caps.

♻️ Is No. 5 Recyclable?  MAYBE
PP is recyclable through some curbside recycling programs.

We recommend that you check in with your local program to find out if you can recycle PP and when it comes to bottle caps, if they’re accepted, find out whether you should leave them on the bottles or separate them.  

Plastic No. 6 –Polystyrene (PS):  

Can be made into rigid or soft foam products.  Think food service items like cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, take-out containers and egg cartons. 

♻️ Is No. 6 Recyclable?  NOT REALLY
PS recycling  is rare; most curbside collectors will not accept PS in foam form because it is 98% air. 
It’s also a possible carcinogen that can leach into foods. 

BUT…no buts; just try to avoid No. 6s.  Since foam products tend to break apart, you should place them in a bag, squeeze out the air, and tie it up before putting it in the trash to prevent pellets from dispersing.

Plastic No. 7 – Miscellaneous: 

These are the misfits, those resins that don’t fit into the other  categories.  Examples are baby bottles, sippy cups, water cooler jugs, sunglasses, DVDs, computer cases, nylon and sometimes even car parts.

♻️ Is No. 7 Recyclable?  NOT REALLY
Consult your community website for specific instructions.  


As you can see, whether certain items are recyclable or not may largely depend on your local recycling programs. We recommend checking with a trusted source like Earth911.com and their nationwide directory of recycling programs, searchable by type of item and zip code, to find out where and how to recycle everything you can.

So when in doubt, don’t just throw it out!  Check your region’s rules so you can recycle by the numbers. 

Bookmark our blog on recycling by resources by state here. 

And, of course,  if you'd like to try ZenWTR, know that our bottles, labels and caps are 100% Recyclable. Click here to shop online.