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Understanding Plastic Recycling Codes

The assumption is that if it is plastic it can be recycled. When we started our recycling journey, I made this assumption and would throw all types of plastic into the recycling bin. Like with food, it is important to read the labels to know what can be recycled and what you should rather avoid. I have been doing some research into what these labels mean and have put together a short guide on understanding plastic recycling codes.

#1 PET or PETE

PET #1 is the thin, clear plastic used for bottled water, soda, juices, condiments, etc. It can easily be turned into fill for duvets, geo-textiles. This type of plastic will leech readily when exposed to heat such. So it is not a good idea to leave plastic bottles in the car. This plastic degrades and should not, ideal be re-used.

Tips for PET #1 bottles: There are a few things you can do with these bottles, like making a bird feeder, a hanging garden etc. You can also make eco-bricks with the larger soda bottles. I have used them for sensory bottles for the kids.

 #2 HDPE High-Density Polyethylene

You will find this code on thicker plastic, like milk jugs, shampoo bottles, kitchen cleaner bottles, some toys etc. These containers are generally accepted at most recycling centres. The advantage of these bottles is that they can be safely refilled and reused.

Tips for PET #2 bottles: Limit the bottles in your home by buying a general kitchen cleaner instead of different cleaners. Buy refills instead of new bottles each time. Milk jugs can be used a range of different crafts.

 #3 PVC Polyvinyl Chloride

PVC can be found in a wide range of products – baby bibs, mattress covers, cling wrap and so much more. While this plastic can be recycled, it is not a “nice” plastic and you should try to avoid bringing it into your home. PVC contains endocrine-disrupting phthalates and these have been linked to reproductive problems and birth defects. Not only is this a major concern but during manufacturing of PVC, dioxin is released into the environment. Dioxin is a potent carcinogen that stays in our bodies for a very long time.

Tips for PVC #3 products: Avoid buying these products, instead look for alternatives. Bees wax wraps are great alternative to cling wrap or just stop using it completely.

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