How to Recycle Hard Plastic

Written by gryphon adams
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How to Recycle Hard Plastic
Find the plastics number inside the chasing arrows recycling symbol. (recycle for life image by Tammy Mobley from

Many recycling programs, including kerbside recycling, accept hard plastics. Eligible hard plastics vary from program to program. For recycling purposes, plastics get sorted according to the type of resin the item contains. The number located in the centre of the chasing-arrows recycling symbol refers to the plastic content. Many programs accept #1 bottles, such as soda bottles. Baby bottles, jugs and even yard furniture, milk crates, flower pots, buckets, toys and laundry baskets appear on the list of eligible hard plastics for recycling for some locations.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Paper grocery bags

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  1. 1

    Check the list of acceptable items for recycling for your kerbside recycling program. If you don't have the list, go to the waste collection company's website or call them. Hard plastic is usually listed under plastic.

  2. 2

    Ask the waste management company where to recycle hard plastic if you don't have kerbside recycling or hard plastics aren't eligible for that program. Alternatively, contact the county dump or nearest recycling facility or pick up station. Make a note of the hours and days of operation.

  3. 3

    Refer to the recycling symbol on the base of the hard plastic item. Check the list for the plastic's eligibility for recycling.

  4. 4

    Rinse the hard plastic items. Most recycling programs request that consumers remove bottle caps before putting bottles in the recycling container.

  5. 5

    Deposit eligible hard plastic items in the recycling bin if your waste collection company offers commingled recycling. Commingled means all the recyclable items get collected together, such as newspaper, bottles and cans. If plastics need to be separated, place the hard plastics in a paper bag.

  6. 6

    Drop off the hard plastics at a recycling facility or drop-off station, if necessary.

Tips and warnings

  • Recycling centres at grocery stores usually accept hard plastic bottles.
  • Team up with friends or neighbours and make an outing of recycling drop-offs if it's necessary to take the hard-plastic recycling to a recycling centre.
  • Don't tie or rubber band plastic items together. Untying recyclables costs the facilities money and slows down processing time.
  • If you aren't sure it's recyclable, call and find out. It's costly for recycling workers to have to remove non-recyclable items mixed in with recyclables.
  • Most containers from toxic products such as hazardous wastes, pesticides and pool chemicals can't be recycled. Keep these out of recycling as they present a danger to recycling workers.

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