Be a responsible Plastic User

Identifying Plastics

There are all different types of plastic, some of them you can recycle, some of them you can't. The Plastics Identification Code is stamped on all plastic products to identify the type of resin used. Here are some common products you will find for each type of plastic

  • PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) - soft drink and fruit juice bottles
  • HDPE (High-density polyethylene) - milk bottles or shampoo containers
  • PVC (Polyvinyl chloride or plasticised polyvinyl chloride)- cordial, juice or squeeze bottles
  • LDPE (Low density polyethylene) – garbage bags and bins
  • PP (Polypropylene) – ice cream containers, take-away food containers and lunch boxes
  • PS (Polystyrene) – yoghurt containers, plastic cutlery, foam hot drink cups
  • Other – all other plastics, including acrylic and nylon

What kind of plastic is recyclable?

Plastic bags, bin liners, and cling wrap are not recyclable. These plastics can get stuck in the sorting equipment in recycling facilities causing it to stop or break. Often bottle tops and lids cannot be recycled with the bottle as they may be made of a different type of plastic. Polystyrene foam is generally not recyclable. This includes the spongy black foam trays that meat is often packaged in at supermarkets. It also includes some takeaway containers and hot drink cups. Other items that cannot be recycled in the normal recycling bins from your council are disposable nappies, and syringes2.

Remember, if you are unsure about what is recyclable check with your municipality.

Not all plastics are the same and your municipality may only be able to recycle certain types through your kerbside recycling program

Contamination of recyclables is a problem because it raises the costs for collectors, recyclers and the community.

Make sure you are aware about what plastics can be recycled and only put these in your recycling bins.

To prepare plastics for recycling, rinse residue from bottles and containers, remove lids.

Be a responsible Plastic User


  • Stuff multiple plastic bags into one to prevent them from flying away and causing litter or clogging the recycling machinery
  • Upcycle - Think of new uses for old items rather than discarding them or buying new ones Say "No straw, please." Straws are one of the top 10 items found on beaches. In most cases, drinking out of a straw is simply unnecessary
  • Rinse all containers until they’re spotless -like plastic juice/milk jugs, yogurt containers, sour cream containers, etc
  • Check if there are local options for recycling other types of glass, plastic or other materials that aren’t commonly recycled, but could be in your area. Every place is different.
  • Throw out the small lids on plastic bottles – some municipalities accept these lids so be sure to check beforehand
  • If you’re creative or know someone who is there are cool reuse projects where you can repurpose these bottles/containers into something awesome!


  • DON’T toss a bag full of random recyclable items into the recycling cart. That’s the easiest way to slow down recycling centers. The workers at the recycling facility can’t see what’s inside the bag to easily sort them. Empty the bag into the recycling cart instead
  • Throw plastic shopping bags in with the recycling plastic bags can always be reused and there are other options like reusable cloth bags.
  • Toss every plastic container in the recycling bin. A lot of places DO NOT accept plastics numbered three, six, and seven, but be sure to double check as some municipalities accept all types of plastic.

How to Recycle Plastic Bags?

Most plastic bags are made from high-density polyethylene (#2 plastic), but the thinner-material bags (such as produce bags) are made from low-density polyethylene (#4 plastic).

Plastic Bag Recycling Preparation

Remove anything inside the bags, such as receipts, stickers or crumbs. All these items will contaminate your bag load.

Keep a bag collection bin in your house, such as one big garbage bag for all bags. Since they compact easily, you should be able to fit 50 to 100 plastic bags in one garbage bag

Make sure any bags you are recycling have a #2 or #4 plastic symbol on them. If not, you can’t be sure what plastic resin the bag is made from, so you’ll want to reuse it instead, before eventually throwing it away

Why Recycle Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are among the most common sources of marine debris, where they can be mistaken as food by birds and fish

Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, meaning it will take hundreds of years for them to decompose in a landfill Recycling a ton of plastic bags (about 450,000 bags) saves 11 barrels of oil

How to Recycle Plastic Caps & Lids

Plastic caps & lids are made of a different plastic resin than the bottle or jug they secure. Most caps are made of polypropylene (#5 plastic), with some (like sports drink bottles) composed of high-density polyethylene (#2 plastic). Plastic bottles and jugs are typically #1 or #2 plastic. Plastic Cap & Lid Recycling Preparation

For plastic bottles, you need to ask your local recycling program whether caps are accepted before trying to recycle them with the bottle. Some will ask you to leave them on, some accept caps but want them separated, and some will ask you to throw them away.

For plastic containers (e.g. butter tubs, yogurt cartons), the lid is usually made of the same material as the base. If the container is #5 plastic, odds are strong that the lid is as well. In these cases, feel free to reattach the lid before recycling if your program accepts non-bottle plastics.

How to Recycle Plastic Bottles & Jugs

Most bottles and jugs are #1 plastic (PET) or #2 plastic (HDPE), which are both accepted by most curbside recycling programs. Plastic Bottle and Jug Recycling Preparation

Most recycling programs ask that you rinse your bottles and jugs before recycling. The remnants often contain sugar, which will attract insects and generate odors.

You’ll want to check with your local program whether to keep caps on the bottles, or whether caps are accepted at all. Some programs want the cap on to prevent loose caps from falling out during transportation. Others want the cap off to ensure the bottle is empty and because their recycling machinery may be damaged when trying to crush a capped bottle.

You should be OK leaving the label on the bottle, but it’s unlikely to be recycled since it’s a low-grade quality of paper or plastic.

Why Recycle Plastic Bottles and Jugs

Plastic bottles are among the most common sources of marine debris, where they can be mistaken as food by birds and fish

Plastic bottles don’t biodegrade, meaning it will take hundreds of years for them to decompose in a landfill

Using recycled plastic to make new products saves 66 percent of the energy over using virgin material

Why does some recycling program accept plastic bottles but not plastic food containers?

Plastic bottles are manufactured using a process called blow molding, which allows them more rigidity. Plastic containers (anything without a “neck”) are manufactured by injection molding, which creates a very stable product. While this means you’re more likely to reuse a plastic container to store leftovers than a bottle, one of the first steps in plastic recycling is to crush and bale the material.

If you try to crush a yogurt container or butter tub, it will crack and be difficult to bale. If you don’t crush these containers, they will cost as “air weight” when they are transferred to the plastic recycler.

supported by

Contact us

All queries and unsolicited submissions for's web-only columns and features are welcome.

Phone no : 011-33505562 / 33505533 / 33505607