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What Do The Numbers On Recyclable Plastics Mean?

By Kristin Hunt

Recyclable plastic usually comes with a little recycling symbol printed on the bottom and depending on the product, there might be a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 stamped in the center of the symbol. It’s easy to miss, but this tiny digit is actually pretty important, because it’s an ID.

The number is a resin identification code, used to help recycling plants sort materials. Recyclable plastics are labeled with numbers 1-7 to tell workers what kind of plastic it is, and how it should be processed. But it also helps recycling collectors determine what items they can accept — and which ones go in the trash.

These numbers are valuable consumer information, because they spell out the likelihood of your recycling ending up in a landfill. So brush up on your resin codes below, and adjust your recycling habits accordingly: