The Numbers on Plastic Bottles: What do Plastic Recycling Symbols Mean?

You’ve seen them before. The little number surrounded by triangle arrows on the bottom of your shampoo bottle and other plastic items. But what do they mean? You know you should recycle your plastic items but have you been recycling them properly?

History Lesson

First a little background on where these numbers come from.

The Society of the Plastics Industry decided to create an easy to follow coding system (Resin identification codes)back in 1988 to help consumers know what type of plastic an item was made from. The idea was that if they understood what type of plastic it was it would promote proper recycling of the items.

The coding system ranges from 1-7.

Separation of these different types of plastics is essential in the recycling process. Even one item of the wrong type of resin can ruin a mix.

So What Numbers Can I Recycle?

Technically speaking all plastic is recyclable, but that doesn’t mean it will be accepted through your local curbside recycling program.

As an Action customer you can put all plastics into your recycle bin. If an item is deemed unrecyclable (typically plastics 3 and 6), we will dispose of it properly.

Check out our easy to follow guide below to understand what the plastic recycling symbols mean.

plastic recycling symbols