Did you know that every ton of plastic bottles recycled saves about 3.8 barrels of oil? The plastics industry realized more than 20 years ago that recycling plastics was an eco-friendly endeavor. Back in 1988 plastic manufacturers asked SPI to create the resin numbering system to help improve the global environment and preserve our natural resources by sorting and recycling plastic garbage.
To get started recycling, check with your local municipality to find out which types of plastics will be accepted at your local recycling center. In most cases, different types of plastic must be recycled separately so that the recycled materials have the most value and potential future uses. The numbers on plastic containers are geared to help consumers and local recycling centers sort all this out.
Most likely your community currently collects only plastic bottles and containers labeled with codes 1 and 2, and that’s ok—together these two categories represent nearly 96 percent of all the plastic bottles and containers used in the United States. Slowly some cities across the country are investing in the technology to sort and accept plastic containers with some of the other code numbers. And when your town starts to accept them, I hope you will include them in your household recycling routine.
After they are recycled, bottles and containers are used to produce a variety of new products—from lumber for outdoor decking to carpeting, fleece jackets and t-shirts. That’s why recycling is better than putting anything in the trash.