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Everything You Need to Know About Recycling Plastic

Did you know that only about “25% of the plastic produced in the U.S. is recycled? If we recycled the other 75% we could save 1 billion gallons of oil and 44 million cubic yards of landfill space annually.”*

What is Plastic?
Plastic is a material that used in almost every aspect of our lifestyle today. Almost everything you touch has some form of plastic within its parts. The main components for making plastic can come from many different materials. However, the most common material used to make plastic are called hydrocarbons. You can find hydrocarbons in coal, gas and oil.
What makes plastics valuable is the ability to shape plastic into almost any form and it will retain that form. Plastic is so versatile that it can range from an almost indestructible and rigid material to a soft, flexible material you can use to wrap a sandwich. It can also be engineered to last almost forever or be engineered to be able to be dissolved by exposure to light. Because of its unique properties it can also be an effective coating or barrier.

Why Recycle Plastic?
We use plastic in so many different ways that we have an excess of plastic on hand. Recycling saves a significant amount of energy that is used to create new plastic products. Most plastics do not immediately breakdown in landfills. This means that plastic can exist for hundreds of years taking up valuable space! Making plastic also requires millions of barrels of oil each year.

What Kind of Plastics Can I Recycle?
Plastic Containers #1-7
Plastic Cleaning & Laundry Bottles
Plastic Food & Juice Bottles
Milk Jugs
Plastic Bags (see #4 plastic below)
Soda Pop Bottles
Water Jugs & Bottles
Food & Juice Bottles
Laundry Jugs & Bottles
Plastic Bottles

How Should I Recycle My Plastic?

To recycling plastic, we recommend the following:

  1. Check the bottom of the container for a number 1-7 (this tells us what kind of plastic it is made of).

#1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE) – this is typically a strong, yet lightweight plastic product that is used to store foods, drinks, soaps, oils etc.

#2 High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) – is lightweight but very strong. It can be used to make hard hats, milk jugs, and detergent bottles.

#3 Polyvinyl Chloride – Mostly used for PVC pipes, vinyl flooring, or other consumer products made with PVC

#4 Low Densityv Polyethylene (LDPE) – this is commonly used for plastic film, trash bags, dry cleaning bags and grocery bags. Plastic grocery bags can usually be recycled at your nearest grocery store.

#5 Polypropylene (PP) – this is your semi-hard plastics use for deli trays and food containers.

#6 Polystyrene (PS) – can be used for carpeting, plastic parts, paper and more

#7 Other – Other mixed resins.

2. Empty or rinse recyclables
3. Separate caps and lids and place in recycling bin

*Source: https://utahrecycles.org/