What does the PETE number mean on a plastic bottle?

Written by carolyn green
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What does the PETE number mean on a plastic bottle?
Plastic bottles have PETE numbers. (water bottle image by Radu Razvan from Fotolia.com)

The PETE number on the bottom of a plastic bottle is used for recycling purposes. The number is part of a seven-code system that identifies the molecular structure of each type of plastic.

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PETE, or polythene terephthalate, is one of the most commonly used types of plastic. The number 1 within a triangle places it in a particular recycling category, because plastics cannot be mixed when recycled. Other types of plastics are coded with different numbers.


Plastic bottles can be made cheaply and, as a result, they are used in many products, such as soda bottles and cooking oil bottles. Other products with the PETE number include plastic films and clothing.


Bottles made from PETE plastic are the most-often-used type of plastic that is recycled. In some locations plastic bottles with the PETE number code have a redemption value.


Because PETE plastics can be easily sorted and recycled, it helps reduce the amount of waste in landfills.


While scientists call Polyethylene Terephthalate PET, it is written as PETE. This is done to avoid confusion with PET, the name a trademarked brand of milk.

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