What do those little numbers mean?

When you see that little recycling arrow icon with a number inside of it, what do you think? I always thought it meant that this particular piece of plastic was OK to recycle. 

“Great,” I’d think, and throw it into the recycling bin... Woops.

As it turns out, the number in the center tells you the history of the plastic, not the future. I learned this on a recycling facility tour in Vermont. The number simply identifies the type of plastic the product is made of. In fact, there are lots of plastics out there with this icon on them that your local Material Recovery Facility (or MRF) is not set up to process. 

So what are the numbers, and what do they mean? Have a look at our plastics cheat sheet we put together to help you navigate your way through what you should, and more importantly, what you shouldn’t be recycling. 

It’s counterintuitive, but here at Ecotiva we say recycle less! 

  • Refuse those one time use plastics in the first place 
  • Know what you can and can’t recycle  
  • Reduce your overall material consumption

Remember, while recycling is a viable process, it is part of the solution, not the solution!