Recycling Symbols Decoded

Most people know the little triangle symbol at the bottom of plastic bottles means 'recycle' but what they don't know is just because it has a triangle on the bottom, doesn't always mean it can be recycled. The numbers indicate the grade of plastic and can also tell you about the safety and uses of that item. There's a lot of talk lately about plastic pollution including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and how plastics are seeping into our tap water. Recycling is one small way we can keep these items out of landfills, our waterways, and the ocean. Use this guide to figure out what the different triangles mean, and to see if your items are recyclable at the Hebron Transfer Station & Recycling Center. 


#1 – Polyethylene Terephthalate

The easiest plastic to recycle and most commonly found in plastic water/soda bottles and some food packaging. PETE is commonly recycled into fibers or polar fleece. It is not recommended for reuse which means it ends up in the recycling stream quickly.

#2 – High Density Polyethylene

This kind of plastic is usually colored or opaque and can be found in milk jugs and detergent or household cleaner bottles. HDPE can easily be recycled into plastic lumber, more bottles or drainage pipes and is considered one of the safest forms of plastic.


#3 – Polyvinyl

Found in shampoo bottles, medical plastics, some toys (including dog) and window trim, this plastic is typically not used for household items that can be consumed as it can contain phthalates. PVC is usually recycled into paneling, flooring, cables and decks. 


#4 – Low Density Polyethylene 

Bottles you can squeeze like shampoo or condiment bottles are made from LDPE. A lot of recycling centers do not accept LDPE but Hebron's does! (this does NOT include plastic film) LDPE can be recycled into more bags or trash liners and floor tiles. 


#5 – Polypropylene

PP is durable and versatile. This is usually found in medical bottles, yogurt tubs, cereal box liners, bottle caps, some ropes and condiment bottles. PP can be recycled into brushes, battery cases and bike racks. 


#6 – Polystyrene

Commonly referred to as 'styrofoam' this is the one kind of plastic that is NOT accepted at the Hebron Transfer Station. Styrofoam makes up Dunkin' cups (for hot liquids), meat trays, packing peanuts and egg cartons.


#7 – BPA, Lexan etc.

This is a mixed bag of plastics. It includes things like baby bottles and 5 gallon water jugs. If you're not sure whether or not your plastic can be recycled just drop us a line or stop by the Hebron Transfer Station!