Understanding Plastic Grades

At American Recycling Company, we handle many grades of industrial, post-industrial, and pre-consumer plastics. At the time of publication, we also take stretch films, shrink wraps, clean agricultural film, PET bottles, preforms, PET strapping, plastic strapping, plastic pails and buckets, certified triple washed pesticide containers, mixed rigid plastic, bin liners, and many other types of plastic. What any recycler accepts can be a moving target driven by market forces, so it is best practice to contact your recycler to verify the material is currently being accepted.

Plastic recycling is the process of recovering scrap or waste plastics and reprocessing the material into new products. Many times the new products will be completely different than the original use. Plastic bottles may be reprocessed into strapping, or strapping may be processed into plastic fencing.

Before recycling, plastics are sorted according to their resin identification code, a method of categorization of polymer types which was developed by the Society of Plastics Industry in 1988. This system categorizes many recyclable plastics into groups numbered 1 through 7:

  1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET, PETE). PET is clear, tough, and has good gas and moisture barrier properties. Commonly used in soft drink bottles
  2. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). HDPE is used to make bottles for milk, juice, water and laundry products.
  3. Vinyl (Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC). The diverse slate of vinyl products can be broadly divided into rigid and flexible materials. Bottles and packaging sheet are major rigid markets, but it is also widely used in the construction market for such applications as pipes and fittings
  4. Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE). Used predominately in film applications due to its toughness, flexibility and relative transparency.
  5. Polypropylene (PP). Polypropylene has good chemical resistance, is strong, and has a high melting point making it good for hot-fill liquids, and packaging for catsup and margarine.
  6. Polystyrene is a versatile plastic that can be rigid or foamed. General purpose polystyrene is clear, hard and brittle. It has a relatively low melting point. Typical applications include protective packaging, containers, lids, cups, bottles and trays.
  7. Other. Use of this code indicates that the package in question is made with a resin other than the six listed above.

Is it Recyclable?

In most cases, we take plastics with these marks on them. We also accept many grades of plastic that may not have these marks. If your company has plastics that you wish to recycle, please contact one of our salespeople for a free quote.