Nowadays, almost every household product contains an element of plastic. As a result, for the purpose of this blog, we must consider proper disposal practices for plastics.
Plastic is a very versatile material and you can find it anywhere from cars to toys, packaging and clothing. Nonetheless, due to the lack of awareness, incorrect disposal occurs often. We see plastic cluttering our streets, clogging waterways and destroying marine life.
Although we’re all familiar with the universal plastic resin symbol (three chasing arrows forming a triangle), the numbers one through seven inside make a significant difference. Differentiating between these symbols can be very confusing for many customers.
As a matter of fact, just because a product has the chasing arrows symbol, doesn’t mean it’s recyclable in your area — it’s just an indicator of the type of plastic it contains. In turn, to properly dispose of common household items, the symbols found on plastics need some explaining as well.
Here’s a quick guide on what each plastic recycling symbol means so you can make more informed decisions!
PET or PETE
PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) is the most common type of plastic which single-use bottled beverages use. This type of material is inexpensive, light weight and very easy to recycle.
Found in: soft drinks, water, ketchup, beer bottles, salad dressings and vegetable oil bottles.
Most curb-side recycling programs accept PET as long as it’s empty and free of any food. Be sure to dispose of water bottle caps in the trash since they’re made from a different material! If there are any labels present, there’s no need to remove them because local waste management facilities will separate them for you.
A versatile type of plastic found in packaging, HDPE (high density polyethylene) is easy to recycle!
Examples of household items include milk jugs, juice bottles, bleach, detergent, basically any household cleaners, shampoo, motor oil and yogurt tubs. Sometimes HDPE will be present amongst some trash and shopping bags as well.
Items which contain HDPE can be thrown into the blue box, except for flimsy plastics such as grocery bags and plastic wraps.
PVC or Vinyl
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or simply vinyl Is a common plastic material which is commonly used for piping and siding. As it’s fairly cheap, you can also find it in most household products and packaging.
Examples include; shampoo, cooking oil bottles, and blister packaging.
Due to the presence of chlorine, PVC can release highly dangerous dioxins when heated. Therefore, it’s not likely to be recycled! Instead, you should ask your local waste management whether to dispose of these types of materials in the trash or drop them off at a collection centre.
LDPE (low density polyethylene) is a flexible plastic with many applications.
Common household items which use LDPE include squeezable bottles, bread, frozen foods, dry cleaning bags, tote bags and some furniture.
Depending on the community that you reside in, these items can be directly accepted through curbside recycling programs.
PP (polypropylene) is known for its high melting point, which is why it is commonly found in containers that hold hot liquids. Sometimes, you may find PP in other items such as yogurt containers, syrup and medicine bottles, as well as caps and straws.
Similar to LDPE, depending on the region you live in, you can dispose of these items directly into the blue bin. However, beware of bottle caps – it’s best to throw those into the trash bin!
PS (polystyrene), popularly known as Styrofoam is present in many rigid and foam products.
Examples include: disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, take-out containers, aspirin bottles and compact disc cases.
Many people make the mistake of throwing styrofoam in the blue bin, not knowing that it’s notoriously difficult to recycle! If styrofoam makes its way into a recycling facility, it’s likely to contaminate the recyclability of other items because it can easily disintegrate during transportation.
Ideally, you should throw styrofoam in the trash bin and if you can, wrap it individually in its own bag to avoid it from breaking down.
Miscellaneous accounts for hard plastics, all polycarbonates and PLA items. This includes 3 and 3.5 gallon water bottles, bulletproof materials, sunglasses, computer cases, nylon, signs and displays and certain food containers.
Miscellaneous plastics are traditionally not recyclable. To find out how to dispose these items, try contacting your local waste management facility!
Contact Your Local Waste Facility
Here at LeKAC, we’re committed to sustainable practices and the environment. We’re here to help you make smarter and greener decisions.
Although we’ve provided a general guide on disposing household items, it’s really important to contact your local waste management because disposal practices do vary across regions!
In some cases, items may not display any recycling symbols. As a result, major cities such as Toronto offer very interactive Waste Wizard search engines to provide detailed information on how to dispose clothes, furniture and other common products!
Even if you live outside the city, you can get helpful tips and disposal information on products such as coffee pods, diapers, tools, electronics and more!
Be sure to check it out because it’s always best to know before you throw!