As nature-lovers, we all understand the importance of recycling and keeping our earth preserved for future generations, but recycling itself is more complicated than people think. Not every plastic is created equal, and while some containers and bottles can be recycled and placed back into circulation, still others lack the chemical properties to be fit for use in food and other health-related products. Therefore to help Mother Earth and of course our fellow campers, we've put together a two-part series on learning just what those little recycling symbols and numbers really mean. Trust us: you will learn something you didn't know before!
Recycling Symbols: PETE Plastic #1
Arguably the most common type of consumer plastic, plastic symbol "1 PETE" is used to make soda and water bottles in addition to certain types of food packaging. This plastic is considered to be one of the "safe" plastics in that it is not rated for high toxicity, but due to the type of food and drink stored in the plastic, it is common for bacteria to thrive and grow over time. Luckily this plastic is capable of being recycled into furniture, tote bags and even fleece jackets, so toss those 1 PETE plastic bottles in the recycling bin!
Recycling Symbols: Plastic HDPE #2
For this type of plastic, HDPE is used primarily in the storing of laundry detergent, milk jugs, shampoo bottles and juice bottles, and is considered non-toxic. This type of plastic can also be recycled at local recycling centers, usually turned into plastic pens, jacklets, lumber, fencing, and even park benches and picnic tables. Any items with HDPE # 2 can be recycled locally as well.
Recycling Symbols: Plastic V or PVC #3
Items with the "V or PCV #3" symbol are plastics that contain phthalates and DEHA, elements that have been known to lead to serious health issues in adults, pregnant women and children including carcinogens and developmental problems. Usually this symbol can be found on PVC piping, clear food wrap and even some detergent bottles, and are not usually accepted at local recycling centers. Though it can be eventually turned into items such as floor paneling and synthetic decking, check with your local recycling center before tossing it in the bin.
Well that's it for now, but stay tuned to our next blog post on recycling plastics for the final four plastic symbols and their recycling potential.