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When it Comes to Recycling – It’s the Number that Matters!

When it Comes to Recycling
It’s the Number that Matters 

We all recognize the international symbol for recycling.  But, do not be fooled by the green or black triangle arrows – just because a package has this symbol on it does not necessarily mean the product can be recycled.

In 1988, The Society of the Plastics Industry, established a system of symbols with numbers that correspond to the specific type of plastic resin used in the product.  Since different regions have different recycling facilities these numbers help identify the type of plastic so they products can be sorted before they are recycled.

It is important to understand what each of these numbers represents so when you choose your resin you know the actual recyclability and reusability of your product.

Let’s go through the numbers

#1- PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

This is the most common type of plastic used in consumer products.  Most water and drink bottle are made from PET.  Other PET product packaging include: rubbing alcohol, liquid hand soap and mouthwash.  It is recyclable but not reusable.  Anything made from PET is intended for single use only.  Once it is recycled the reprocessed PET can be turned into a recycled fiber material.  The recycled fiber can be used to make carpet, pillow stuffing, industrial and automotive strapping, fleece garments.  And, even the felt on the outside of a tennis ball!

#2- HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

HDPE plastic is the most commonly recycled plastic. Due to its durable properties, HDPE is used for shampoo bottles, milk containers, tubes containing industrial chemicals and other products containing water and chemicals.  It is also what most plastic bags are made from.  HDPE plastic does not break down with exposure to light or extremes of heating or freezing.  Products made from HDPE are both recyclable and reusable.  Recycling HDPE plastic for other uses is relatively easy and cost effective.  Recycled HDPE is used to make plastic lumber and furniture.

#3- PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC is not usually a desirable choice for packaging as it is not readily recycled.  Often used to make plastic pipes, plumbing parts, garden hoses and industrial siding, PVC is not easily affected by sunlight or weather.  Some PVC products can be repurposed but, should be avoided with food and children’s products.

#4- LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

Due to its’ low toxicity, LDPE is a safer alternative than other plastic properties.  Most squeezable bottles, shrink wrap, dry cleaner bags and plastic grocery and trash bags are made from LDPE.  LDPE tubes are a cost-efficient option for pharmaceutical, cosmetic, nutraceutical, personal care and food products.  Products made from LDPE are reusable but not often recyclable.  Though, many communities are now beginning to accept #4 LDPE products for recycling.  When LDPE products are recycled, they can be repurposed as plastic lumber, floor tiles or for use in landscaping.

#5- PP (Polypropylene)

Tough and lightweight, Polypropylene has outstanding heat-resistant properties and serves as a barrier against moisture, grease and chemicals.  Safe for use with food and pharmaceuticals, PP is the material that makes the plastic bag in your cereal box, as well as yogurt containers, plastic caps, prescription bottles and face cream.  While not often recycled when it is, PP can be repurposed to make battery casings, brooms, trays and other hard plastic objects.  PP is safe for reuse and more communities are beginning to accept #5 PP plastic for recycling.

#6- PS (Polystyrene)

Polystyrene is an inexpensive, lightweight form of plastic often used for Styrofoam cups, take-out food containers and loose fill packing material.   Recycling is not widely available for PS. There is a big push to move away from Polystyrene as it never fully degrades and is being found on beaches and waterways throughout the world causing harm to sea life.

#7- Miscellaneous (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN)

This is a catch-all category for any plastic items that are not exclusively one of the previous 6 categories.  Some common items that are part of this category include microwaveable dishes, large water cooler bottles, baby bottles and sippy cups.  Since it is not a set category, recyclability and reuse are not standard.

The bottom line is the United States is moving towards a better recycling plan.  Communities are increasing the number of categories they can recycle, and the public is more aware about recycling options.  New creative ways to reuse plastic are being developed so even non-recycled products can safely be repurposed.

About Global Pack Source

Global Pack Source specializes in providing high quality tubes, bottles, jars and cans that adhere to the strictest manufacturing standards in the industry. We work with a curated group of CGMP certified, sustainably minded factories to provide packaging solutions for pharmaceutical, food, cosmetic, personal care and industrial products.

Global Pack Source is an environmentally conscious company.  We work  with our multi-national suppliers and freight forwarders to continually decrease our impact on the environment. Using manufacturing facilities in green zones, reducing emissions and saving energy during the manufacturing process while employing eco-friendly manufacturing standards are just a few ways Global Pack Source is working to create greener, more sustainable initiatives throughout our products life-cycle.  Global Pack Source is dedicated to procuring the most environmentally friendly packing solutions available.

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Please contact our sales team for more information on how we can help create your best and greenest packaging ever.


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