Have you ever wondered what the numbered recycling symbol on a plastic product stands for? Most people assume it means "recyclable", but that is not always the case. Understanding the plastic recycling symbols will help your business recycle smarter! Check our our post to learn how, and share our infographic with your colleagues who may be interested in learning more about this.
**This post was originally published September 2019 and has been updated for accuracy. Calling a water bottle, a grocery bag, and your phone case all “plastic” is like naming a wolf, coyote, and your pet yellow lab all “dog.” Plastic is a family of materials, each with different qualities, uses, and avenues to recycle. To alleviate our collective confusion, in 1988, the Society of the Plastics Industry implemented the Resin Identification Coding system—a designated number that manufacturers could stamp on their product (usually molded on the bottom) to indicate what type of plastic it was. Their hope was to raise our dismal national recycling rates for plastic from less than 1% (1980). Unfortunately, this system relied on a knowledge that American businesses and consumers didn’t have. Counting from one to seven was something we learned in grade school; attributing them to plastics was not. The symbols have no meaning to us—telling polyethylene apart from polypropylene doesn't matter if you don't know which your waste service will accept and recycle. That’s where we can help. Even if you never learn their names, their chemical makeup, or the recycled products they can return as again and again, knowing the numbers is the easiest way to become a better recycler. So, print and hang this infographic in your office kitchen or above the bin, and read on as we demystify the seven plastic recycling symbols.read more