Plastics by the numbers

Plastics by the numbers in Minnesota

It is used in virtually every aspect of our lives. Plastic can be found in everything from car bumpers to that fleece jacket you’re wearing.

There are seven kinds of plastic.

You can find the number inside the recycling symbol on the bottom of the product. The number lets recyclers know what kind of plastic the product is made of, but don’t let the symbol fool you.

“The symbol can be confusing because people think if it’s got the symbol on the bottom it can be recycled but that’s not the case,” says Angie Timmons from the Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services.

Go to the MPCA’s website for more information about what recycling symbols mean

Right now metro area recyclers only collect from the curb plastic with numbers one and two. Those plastics are things like water bottles, milk and juice jugs and even your laundry detergent bottles.

Plastics with numbers three through six (plastic food wrap, grocery bags, plastic food containers with lids and yogurt containers are a few examples) are collected in greater Minnesota in a few communities. The reason? There are far more end markets for those plastics 1 & 2 than there are for 3 through 6. That means there are not many companies using those plastics right now to make new products.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is working to bring more companies to Minnesota that would use those plastics. Right now there are several Minnesota companies already doing their part, more and more areas are beginning to accept these types of plastics, check with you local waste hauler or your county’s recycling coordinator.

Plastic number seven is a composite plastic that is used to make those reusable hard plastic water bottles, baby bottles and children’s sippy cups. This type of plastic is typically not collected for recycling.