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The process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. Recycling depends on a materials ability to first, be separated from other materials and secondly, to reacquire properties that make it into a useful product. In our society of high water, recycling is a key component for waste reduction. The types of recyclable materials include many kinds of glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, tires, textiles, batteries, and electronics. In addition, composting is the reuse of biodegradable waste from foods and plants.

Some common recycling types are listed below:

Item; Plastic Designation Number Yes for recycle bin No for recycle bin Comments Recycled products produced
Paper/Cardboard Newspaper, magazine, mail (even with plastic windows), food containers, boxes Gift wrap with shiny surfaces; food particles (spatula clean food containers to recycle) More paper and cardboard
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET); #1 Food and beverage containers Remove plastic labels (not recyclable) and caps (recyclable but different material) New bottles, clothing like polar fleece, carpets and sleeping bags
High density polyethylene (HDPE); #2 Bottles for milk, laundry detergent, household cleaners; dairy tubs and cartons Pipes, floor tiles, plastic sheeting; crates
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC); #3 None Some cooking oil and shampoo bottles, cling film; shower curtains; structural boards and boxes, vinyl fabrics Some can be shredded/melted and reformed (downcycled); As waste, they can release toxic materials; PVC is on many DO NOT USE lists Plastic wood, insulation; cables
Low density polyethylene (LDPE); #4 None Grocery bags, bread bags, squeeze containers (toothpaste); cellophane wrap used in packaging In-store recycle locations; can be shredded/melted and reformed Envelopes, floor tiles, trash can liners; plastic wood
Polypropylene (PP); #5 Medicine containers, bottle caps; ketchup bottles; some food bags like for cereal brooms, brushes, plastic trays, ice scrapers
Polystyrene (PS); #6 None (banned for use in some cities) Bubble wrap, Styrofoam, packing peanuts; hot beverage cups Can be shredded/melted and reformed (downcycled); non-biodegradable but falls apart with age and spreads throughout ecosystems Plastic wood, insulation, crown molding
Other; #7; includes Acrylic, Nylon, Polycarbonate,
Glass Food and beverage containers Metal caps More glass containers
Aluminum Cans, foil Do not crush cans More aluminum containers

Synonyms and Related Terms

recycling; recyclables;

Resources and Citations