How to Identify Different Types of Plastic
Types of plastic are identified by different symbols. The codes are agreed internationally in order to provide clarity on the chemical makeup of each plastic substrate and determines the grading for recycling of these substrates.
Name: Polyethylene Terephthalate
Description: Usually clear or green, sinks in water, rigid, hard wearing, can be used as a fiber
Uses: Disposable drinking bottles, vegetable oil bottles, sleeping bag and pillow filling, textile fibers
Recycled as: soft drinks, detergent bottles, shrink wrap, carpet fibers, fleecy jackets.
Name: High Density Polyethylene
Description: Semi-rigid, sinks in water, resistant to chemicals, opaque and easily coloured
Uses: water bottles, bleach bottles, milk bottles, crates, chemical bottles, shopping bags.
Recycled as: plastic timber, recycling bins, plastic pipes
Name: Polyvinyl Chloride
Description: Semi- rigid, glossy, sinks in water, may be clear
Uses: detergent / cleanser bottles, pipes, fittings, window/door frames, thermal insulation (PVC foam) and automotive parts.
Recycled as: speed bumps, wellington boots, flooring, mud flaps
Name: Low Density Polyethylene
Description: Flexible, soft not crinkly
Uses: 6 pack rings, bread bags, sandwich bags, ice cream containers, bin bags, black plastic sheet, rubbish bins
Recycled as: pallet sheets, bin bags
Description: Semi- rigid, low gloss - many uses
Uses: margarine tubs, straws, screw on lids, microwaveable meal trays, filaments for carpets, wall coverings and vehicle upholstery.
Recycled as: car battery cases, oil funnels, pegs, trays
Name: Polystyrene PS Expanded Poly Styrene EPS
Description: Often brittle, glossy, may be clear, lightweight, energy absorbing, thermal insulation.
Uses: plastic cutlery, foam (hot) drink cups, takeaway food containers, meat trays, packaging chips, electrical and white goods protective packaging.
Recycled as: Coat bangers, coasters, picture frames, seed trays, building products
Name: Polycarbonate, Acrylic, ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), mixed / multilayer plastic
Description: Polycarbonate – durable material, high impact-resistance, good electrical insulator
Uses: Sunglass / eyewear lenses, safety goggles / visors, swimming goggles, automotive head lamp lenses, electronic components, LCD screens, CDs and DVDs
Description: Acrylic - very rigid and strong, can be clear, high heat and impact resistance
Uses: aquariums, paint, product stands & displays
Description: ABS – impact resistance and toughness
Uses: automotive trim components, car bumpers, protective headgear, luggage, small kitchen appliances and toys (LEGO bricks)
Recycled: all recycled into the same products
In addition: If you have products made from recycled plastic all symbols 1-6 have an R in front,
RPET, RHDPE, RPVC,RLDPE, RPP, RPS and have potential for further recycling.