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What Do I Do With Non-Recyclable Plastic? (And How Do I Identify It?)

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As it turns out, not all plastics are created equally. It’s not as simple as chucking a single-use plastic cup in a recycling bin and hoping for the best. That’s right: Some plastic is more easily and commonly recycled than others. But then the question becomes how the heck do we sort the “good” plastics (the recyclable plastics) from the “bad” ones (the plastic that can’t be recycled)? Keep reading to find out.

Which Plastics Cannot Be Recycled?

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Maybe you’ve noticed that all plastic has a number on the bottom. Trust us, that number is not arbitrary. It’s actually an indicator of a classification system called the Resin Identification code. This number actually describes the kind of plastic resin the product is made from. When it comes to knowing how to properly discard and recycle plastic, that Resin Identification Code is crucial. According to Mercola, the most toxic plastics are #3 polyvinyl chloride (PVC), #6 polystyrene (PS), and #7 other. While #7 is a plastic catch-all for variations that may even contain hazardous byproducts like BPA and BPS, polystyrene is Styrofoam (so a hot to-go coffee cup or Styrofoam to-go food containers) and #3 is usually found in vinyl flooring or padded play mats for children and is associated with allergies and asthma.