PP plastic, or polypropylene (the #5 plastic, as designated by the number inside the chasing arrow recycling symbol), is usually not accepted by kerbside recycling programs. This polymer is typically used to make caps on bottles, yoghurt containers, and drinking straws. Polypropylene has a higher melting point than #1 and #2 plastics and needs to be handled separately from other kerbside recycling materials. Several companies now collect #5 plastic to be recycled.
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Look for the number 5 inside the chasing arrow recycling symbol to confirm the plastic is PP. Examples include shampoo caps, dental floss containers, water bottle caps, squirt bottle lids, milk gallon lids, yoghurt containers, and medicine bottles. Polypropelyne is a more rigid plastic than #1 and #2 plastics.
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Remove any foam or paper lining from the inside of lids. Rinse the containers so they don't begin to smell while filling the collection bin. Encourage co-workers and neighbours to save #5 plastics, and organise a collection drive at work, school, or church.
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Designate a special container for the PP plastic and educate everyone to remove any lids before disposing of bottles. Caps that are inadvertently thrown out with #1 and #2 plastic bottles will not be recycled and could possibly jam the machines used to break down the softer plastics. A small bucket next to regular recycling bins works well.
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Find a collection drop-off or mail-in area.
Aveda salons accept most #5 lids. Call 1-877-Aveda09 for details (Reference 1). Also, many Whole Foods stores have collection bins for #5 plastics as part of a partnership with the Preserve Products organisation, which turns polypropylene plastic into tableware, toothbrushes and razor handles (Reference 2).
Weisenback Recycled Products has organised the Caps Can Do! program and places collection bins at zoos and aquariums around the United States, in addition to accepting mailed in products (References 3).
Both the Preserve Products and Weisenback company websites have information about where to send the PP plastic for recycling.
Also, Earth911 has a zip code search feature for where to recycle in local municipalities as well.
- With more than 136 million pounds of polypropelene plastic thrown away in the United States annually (Reference 3), it's a way to make a difference. Nearly every piece of plastic ever made is still in existence. Ocean and marine life is endangered by floating masses of plastic garbage in the water.
- Plastic is a petroleum product. Using less plastic, reusing that which is already in existence, and finding new uses for it reduces the overall consumption of petroleum.