Isn't all plastic the same? Surely you can recycle anything with a recycle symbol on it?
There are seven different types of plastics and unfortunately, it's not always as 'easy' as it seems for some of them. We are all well aware (hopefully) that we should use less plastic, yet the fact that it is embedded in so many everyday items and products can pose a challenge. It is easier than you think to go plastic free, start your journey with a simple reusable item such as a water bottle and go from there. If you can't find an eco-conscious substitute (which is rare), then it's important to know your plastic numbers!
WHAT DOES THE NUMBER ACTUALLY MEAN?
You may have noticed the little numbers inside of the recycling symbol. These guys actually have a purpose. They are called ‘Resin Identification Codes’ (RIC’s). They are used as a guide to know the grade of plastic, how easy it is to recycle, which chemicals are inside, how biodegradable they are, their level of leaching, and for separation processes.
Fun Fact: We thought the symbol meant the amount of times it had 'been recycled' (wow 😅)
You can recycle almost anything, however some plastics require a far bigger effort than others, which can leave a massive footprint on the environment. So we created the guide or 'cheat sheet' below to show the difficulty level behind recycling the different types of plastic. Screenshot it, share it, print it out and stick it on your fridge so you can familiarise yourself with it and make healthier, earth loving decisions.
TYPES OF PLASTIC CHEAT SHEET
IF IT DOESN'T HAVE A SYMBOL, CAN I RECYCLE IT?
This short video is super helpful for knowledge on what items are recyclable and how to optimise their 'recyclability'.
Golden rule: Different materials need to be separated. For example a toy with plastic and wooden parts needs to be taken apart before it can go into the recycle or compost bin.
Remove the lids and rings from bottles. They are a different type of plastic, and it helps to avoid liquid being trapped inside which effects the items weight and sorting process.
Remove stickers/ labels from bottles.
Rinse out and clean items to your best ability before placing in the recycle bin to avoid contamination.
Remove greasy sections of your pizza crate to avoid contamination.
For more information on how to properly recycle plastics and other materials, check out this short and helpful recycling guide.
Plastic Leaching refers to the nasty chemicals inside plastic items transferring onto the food or beverages they touch. Here’s a little cheat sheet that rates each type and their risk of leaching (Keep this in mind if bub likes to play with plastic items in their mouth):