As the largest recycler of municipal solid waste in North
America, Waste Management processes more than 5.5 million tons of recyclable
materials each year through its 109 material recovery facilities. Through
the resources of WM Recycle America, a majority-owned subsidiary of
WM, we provide cost-efficient, environmentally sound recycling programs
for municipalities, businesses and households across the U.S. and Canada.
Plastic resin identification codes and plastic recycling
Most plastic products have a recycling symbol with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 along with letters. This is the SPI resin identification coding system which is a set of symbols placed on plastics to identify the polymer type. The symbols used in the code consist of arrows that cycle clockwise to form a rounded triangle and enclosing a number, often with an acronym representing the plastic below the triangle. When the number is omitted, the symbol is known as the universal Recycling Symbol, indicating generic recyclable materials. See below for basic information or Click here to learn more about the 7 plastic identification codes.
Plastic Identification Code
Type of plastic polymer
Common Packaging Applications
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET, PETE)
Clarity, strength, toughness, barrier to gas and moisture.
Soft drink, water and salad dressing bottles; peanut butter and jam jars
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Stiffness, strength, toughness, resistance to moisture, permeability to gas.
Milk, juice and water bottles; trash and retail bags.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Versatility, clarity, ease of blending, strength, toughness.
Juice bottles; cling films; PVC piping
Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
Ease of processing, strength, toughness, flexibility, ease of sealing, barrier to moisture.
Frozen food bags; squeezable bottles, e.g. honey, mustard; cling films; flexible container lids.
Strength, toughness, resistance to heat, chemicals, grease and oil, versatile, barrier to moisture.
Reusable microwaveable ware; kitchenware; yogurt containers; margarine tubs; microwaveable disposable take-away containers; disposable cups and plates.
Versatility, clarity, easily formed
Egg cartons; packing peanuts; disposable cups, plates, trays and cutlery; disposable take-away containers;
Dependent on polymers or combination of polymers
Beverage bottles; baby milk bottles; electronic casing.