Flip over a plastic container, and you’ll likely see a familiar symbol. Triangular in shape, the symbol looks like three arrows chasing one another around a number. The symbol, and the number contained within, helps identify the type of plastic that the container is made from. It doesn’t indicate whether or not the container can be recycled.
Recycling & Disposal Information:
In the Twin Cities metro area all plastic bottles and tubs labeled with a #1, #2, #4, or #5 are collected for home recycling.
Some recycling haulers may accept more types of plastics. Plastic containers labeled #1 through #7 and plastic bags can now be recycled in some cities. Call your city recycling coordinator or recycling service provider for detailed information on materials accepted in your area.
You can recycle #5 plastic containers such as yogurt and margarine tubs through the Preserve Gimme 5 program. Gimme 5 collection bins are located at the following Whole Foods:
- 3060 Excelsior Blvd., Minneapolis
- 7401 France Ave., Edina
Due to plastic commodity markets and new technologies at recycling facilities, materials collected through residential recycling programs are subject to change.
Non-recyclable plastic containers may be placed in the garbage.
Try to reduce the amount of hard to recycle plastics in your home.
- Purchase products with the least amount of packaging.
- Look for opportunities to buy in bulk instead of individually-wrapped, single-serving items.
Find ways to use those plastic containers for something else instead of disposing of them.
- Small containers make great pots for starting seedlings. Just punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage.
- Large food containers can be used to collect food scraps for your backyard compost pile.
- Use containers of any size to sort your jewelry, extra buttons, make-up and any other items that need organization.
Why Aren't All Plastics Recycled?
The number on the bottom of a container indicates the general category of plastic it's made from, but doesn't contain any information on the details of the plastic composition. For example, although a yogurt cup may be made from #2 plastic, (the same type of material as a recyclable milk jug or bleach bottle), it contains different dyes, plasticizers, UV inhibitors, softeners, and other chemicals required to shape it into a cup. That mix of additives changes the properties of the plastic and makes it incompatible with the plastic used to make bottles.
As local recycling markets and technologies develop, more types of plastics are being collected for recycling.