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Plastic

Recycling one ton of plastic:

Saves 5,774 kWh energy
Saves 16.3 barrels (685 gallons) of oil
Saves 98 million Btu's of energy
Saves 30 cubic yards of landfill space

Plastic Recycling Tips

Prepare plastic containers for recycling by ensuring first that they are either:

  1. (PETE): soda-pop bottles, cooking-oil bottles and peanut-butter jars
  2. (HDPF): milk, water and juice bottles, bleach and detergent bottles, margarine tubs and some grocery sacks
  3. (PVC): window cleaner bottles, cooking-oil containers and detergent powder containers
  4. (LDPE): food packaging, shrink-wrap, carryout bags and heavy-duty bags
  5. (PP): butter and margarine tubs, yogurt containers, screw-on caps and drinking straws
  6. (PS): often incorrectly referred to as Polystyrene foam, a Dow Chemical brand trademark, the category includes cutlery and plates, foam coffee cups, egg cartons, meat trays and yogurt containers
  7. (Other): squeezable syrup and condiment bottles and some microwave food trays

These identification codes are often on the bottom of the plastic container encircled by three chasing arrows and tell you what type of plastic was used to manufacture the item. For more information about the codes - called resin identification codes - consult the American Plastics Council Web site and view the Plastic Packaging Resins Chart. 

  • Remove plastic tops from the plastic containers being recycled and rinse containers with water.
  • Crushing containers will help save space while storing them.

Did You Know?

  • Enough plastic bottles are thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
  • Approximately 88% of the energy is saved by producing plastic from plastic as opposed to manufacturing plastic from the raw materials of oil and gas.
  • For every seven trucks needed to deliver paper grocery bags to the store - only one truck is needed to carry the same number of plastic grocery bags.
  • The number of plastics recycling businesses has nearly tripled over the past several years, with more than 1,700 businesses handling and reclaiming post-consumer plastics.
  • By using plastic in packaging, American product manufacturers save enough energy each year to power a city of 1 million homes for three and a half years.
  • Since 1977, the 2-liter plastic soft drink bottle has gone from weighing 68 grams to just 51 grams today, representing a 25% reduction per bottle. That saves more than 206 million pounds of packaging each year. The 1-gallon plastic milk jug has undergone an even greater reduction, weighing 30% less than what it did 20 years ago.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that using plastic foam insulation in homes and buildings will save close to 60 million barrels of oil each year vs. other kinds of insulation.
  • Approximately 80% of the U.S. population has access to some kind of plastics recycling program. The number of companies handling and reclaiming post-consumer plastics is nearly six times greater than in 1986, growing from 310 companies to 1,792 in 1998.
  • The lives of more than 1,900 police officers have been saved through the use of protective vests made from plastic fibers.
  • Improvements in energy efficiency made through the use of plastics in the last decade save more than 53 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually. This saves American consumers a total of more than $4 billion each year.