Meaning of Plastics Recycling Numbers

The numbers inside the plastics recycling symbols refer to the specific plastic resin polymer. When recycling, the plastics need to be sorted into their different polymers before they can be processed.

The table below shows, by recycling number, which products are made with each type of plastic, and what types of products are created when that type of plastic is recycled.

The information in the table is based on information from the American Chemistry Council.

Please note that some of the recyclables mentioned may not be accepted by local recycling locations and/or businesses. To find the specifics of what each recycling location will and will not take, go to the Recycling Locations page and select the location and/or business you are interested in.
Products Using
Recycled Products Made From
1 Recycling Symbol  Bottles: soft drinks,water, juice, sports drinks, beer, mouthwash, ketchup and salad dressing

Jars: peanut butter, jelly, jam and pickles

Microwaveable food trays

Textiles, carpet, strapping, engineering molding.
Fiber for carpet, fleece jackets, comforter fill, and tote bags.

Containers for food, beverages (bottles), and non-food items.

2 Recycling Symbol  Bottles: milk, water, juice, cosmetics, shampoo, dish and laundry detergents and household cleaners.

Grocery and retail bags.

Cereal box liners.

Reusable shipping containers.

Injection molded plastics, pipe and conduit, wood composites and wire and cable covering. 
Bottles for non-food items such as shampoo, conditioner, liquid laundry detergent, household cleaners, motor oil and antifreeze.

Plastic lumber for outdoor decking, fencing and picnic tables.

Pipe, floor tiles, buckets, crates, flower pots, garden edging, and recycling bins. 
3 Recycling Symbol  Rigid Packaging: blister packs and clam shells.

Flexible Packaging: bags for bedding and medical supplies, shrink wrap, deli and meat wrap and tamper resistance.

Non-packaging (rigid): pipe, siding, window frames, fencing, decking and railing.

Flexible: blood bags, medical tubing, wire and cable insulation, carpet backing and flooring. 
Pipe, decking, fencing, paneling, gutters, carpet backing, floor tiles and mats, resilient flooring, mud flaps, cassette trays, electrical boxes, cables, traffic cones, garden hose, and mobile home skirting.

Loose leaf binders. 
4 Recycling Symbol  Bags: dry cleaning, newspaper, bread, frozen foods, fresh produce, and household garbage.

Shrink wrap and stretch film.

Coatings for paper milk cartons and hot and cold beverage cups.

Container lids.


Squeezable bottles (i.e. honey, mustard)

Injection molding, adhesives and sealants, and wire and cable coverings. 
Shipping envelopes, garbage can liners, floor tile, paneling, furniture, film and sheet, compost bins, trash cans, landscape timber and outdoor lumber. 
5 Recycling Symbol  Containers: yogurt, margarine, takeout meals, deli foods, medicine bottles.

Bottle caps and closures.

Bottles for ketchup and syrup.

Fibers, appliances and consumer products and automotive products and carpeting. 
Automobile parts: battery cases, signal lights, battery cables, brooms and brushes, ice scrapers, oil funnels, and bicycle racks.

Garden rakes, storage bins, shipping pallets, sheeting and trays. 
6 Recycling Symbol  Food Service Items: cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, hinged takeout containers (clam shells), meat and poultry trays, rigid food containers (e.g. yogurt). These may be foamed or non-foamed.

Protective foam packaging for furniture, electronics and other delicate items.

Packing "peanuts"

Compact disc cases and aspirin bottles.

Non-Packaging: agricultural trays, electronic housings, cable spools, building insulation, video cassette cartridges, coat hangers, and medical products and toys. 
Thermal insulation, thermometers, light switch plates, vents, desk trays, rulers and license plate frames.

Cameras or video cassette casings.

Foamed food service items such as egg shell cartons.

Plastic moldings (wood replacement products).

Expandable polystyrene (EPS) foam protective packaging. 
7 Recycling Symbol  Three and 5-gallon reusable water bottles, some citrus juice and ketchup bottles.

Oven baking bags, barrier layers and custom packaging. 
Bottles and plastic lumber.