What does the triangled number on your water bottle mean?

2 minute read | 357 words

Firstly, let’s get some terminology going…consumer plastics are any plastic items bought buy customers e.g. food containers, bottles etc. and the little triangle with a number inside is called a resin identification code. These codes tell you what type of plastic the container is made from (yes, there are different types of plastics…).

Some 80 million tonnes of plastic wash up on shores across the world. Pathetic Brands is currently donating 5% of every Friesian Tee sale to fund beach clean stations across Swansea Beaches.

Here’s a basic table to help you understand resin codes a little easier:

Resin Code

Plastic Type

Short-Hand

Example Consumer Plastic

Recyclable?

1

Polyethylene Terephthalate

PET / PETE

Drinks Bottles

Yes

2

High-Density Polyethylene

HDPE

Milk Bottles

Yes

3

Polyvinyl Chloride

PVC

Detergent Bottles

No

4

Low-Density Polyethylene

LDPE

Bin Bags

Some

5

Polypropylene

PP

Take-out Containers

Few

6

Polystyrene

PS

Kebab Container

Some

7

Mixed Plastics

-

Avoid

No

 

You will often see a ‘Widely Recyclable’, ‘Check Locally’ or ‘Not Yet Recycled’ label on the front of the packaging. While the resin codes were introduced in 1988, this method was introduced in 2009 and it's a much easier way of checking.

Example Recycling Labels

To summarise, the main points to take away from this are:

  • Avoid number 7 plastics where possible as they can contain hazardous plastics.
  • Try your best to recycle all your number 1 and 2 plastics and make sure they are relatively clean before doing so!
  • Try to reduce your daily use of number 3.
  • Check with your local council if they accept 4,5 and 6 in recycling bags and at recycling centres.

 

I’ll post another blog soon with more detail on:

  1. Why number 7 plastics are hazardous.
  2. Why you need to clean your trash.
  3. How many times an item of each plastic type can be recycled.

 

I’ll also write 2 minute blogs on:

  1. Why reducing plastic is better than recycling it.
  2. The latest recycling technology.
Please let me know if there's a specific topic you want me to look into!
Happy Recycling!