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What Are The Recycling Symbols 1-7

Imagine a world where each piece of trash you discard tells a story, a story of transformation and reincarnation. In the world of waste management, these stories are encoded in recycling symbols, tiny triangles composed of three chasing arrows.

These symbols, as silent guardians of our environment, are instrumental in promoting proper waste disposal and enhancing recycling efficiency.

The Recycling Symbols 1-7

Here’s the short version of this article, read on to learn more in-depth about which each one means.

Symbol Plastic Type Description
♳ (1) PET or PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate) Often used in water and soda bottles, as well as some packaging. It is widely accepted in recycling programs.
♴ (2) HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) Found in milk jugs, detergent bottles, and some plastic bags. It is widely accepted in recycling programs.
♵ (3) PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Used in some plastic wrap, squeeze bottles, and pipes. PVC is not usually recycled due to the toxins it can release during the process.
♶ (4) LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene) Found in grocery bags, plastic wrap, and some bottles. Not all recycling programs accept LDPE, but many grocery stores collect bags for recycling.
♷ (5) PP (Polypropylene) Used in yogurt containers, straws, and other types of packaging. It is not universally accepted in recycling programs, but it is becoming more widely accepted.
♸ (6) PS (Polystyrene) Often found in foam products like disposable coffee cups and packing peanuts. It is not often accepted in curbside recycling programs due to difficulties in the recycling process.
♹ (7) Other (Various) This is a catch-all category for other types of plastic, including bioplastics and polycarbonate. Recycling of these plastics depends on the specific type and local recycling programs.

The Epic Tale of Recycling Symbol #1: PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

If you’ve ever felt the refreshing rush of cool water from a plastic bottle on a hot day, then you’ve encountered PETE. PETE is one of the most commonly used plastics worldwide, often found in soft drink, water, and other beverage containers. Its popularity is due to its excellent gas and moisture barrier properties.

However, the recycling of PETE is a delicate dance. It involves collecting, sorting, cleaning, shredding, and finally melting the plastic into new products. This process reduces landfill waste and conserves resources; according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling one ton of PETE saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.

Look around you, the PETE symbol might be closer than you think. It’s found on beverage bottles, microwavable food trays, and even in some clothing items like fleeces.

The Narrative of Recycling Symbol #2: HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

HDPE is the strong, silent type. It’s resistant to many different solvents and has a wide variety of applications, from milk jugs and detergent bottles to piping systems.

Recycling HDPE is a meticulous procedure, but one that is critical to preserving our environment. It’s cleaned, shredded, and remolded into new products. According to a study by the Waste Management World, recycling a single HDPE bottle can conserve enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for six hours.

Look no further than your kitchen or laundry room to find products marked with the HDPE symbol, like milk jugs, detergent bottles, or grocery bags.

The Chronicle of Recycling Symbol #3: PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC is the dark horse among the recycling symbols. It’s durable, versatile, and commonly used in construction materials, but its recycling journey is fraught with challenges. PVC releases toxic fumes when heated, posing a threat to human health and the environment.

Despite these challenges, innovative methods like mechanical recycling and feedstock recycling are being developed to manage PVC waste. Though, it’s not as straightforward as recycling PETE or HDPE, every bit counts.

You can find the PVC symbol on a range of products, from credit cards and faux leather products to pipes and window frames.

The Saga of Recycling Symbol #4: LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)

Enter LDPE, the lightweight champion of the plastic world. It’s soft, flexible, and often used in applications like plastic bags and cling wrap.

Although recycling LDPE is more challenging due to its low density and tendency to get tangled in machinery, it’s not impossible. Some grocery stores collect LDPE bags for recycling, and new technologies are emerging to improve LDPE recycling rates.

LDPE symbol-marked items are commonplace – think grocery bags, bread bags, and the protective wrap for paper towels.

The Legend of Recycling Symbol #5: PP (Polypropylene)

PP is the silent hero of your everyday life, found in everything from yogurt containers to automotive parts. It’s strong, lightweight, and resistant to chemicals.

Recycling PP is a sustainable practice that saves energy and reduces landfill waste. While the recycling rate for PP is currently lower than for other plastics, efforts are underway to increase this.

Items bearing the PP symbol are all around us. They include yogurt containers, syrup bottles, and even baby bottles.

The Story of Recycling Symbol #6: PS (Polystyrene)

PS, also known as Styrofoam is lightweight yet strong. It’s used in a myriad of products, from disposable cutlery to insulation material.

Recycling PS is a challenge due to its light weight and the cost of transportation. However, innovative solutions like chemical recycling are transforming the narrative for PS recycling.

Keep an eye out for the PS symbol on items like disposable coffee cups, food service trays, and packing peanuts.

The Mystery of Recycling Symbol #7: Other/Miscellaneous Plastics

The final symbol, #7, is a catch-all category for other types of plastics. This can include anything from bioplastics to polycarbonate.

Recycling these miscellaneous plastics can be complex due to the variety of materials involved. However, advancements in recycling technologies are offering new hope for these hard-to-recycle materials.

You’ll find the #7 symbol on a variety of items, from large water bottles to certain kinds of food containers.


From PETE to the miscellaneous #7, each recycling symbol weaves its own tale in the epic narrative of waste management. These symbols are not just markers on our everyday products, but roadmaps to a more sustainable future.

By understanding and applying them correctly, we can all play a part in conserving our resources and protecting our environment.


What is recycle symbol 8?

Recycling symbol 8 isn’t standardized like symbols 1-7. If you see an 8, it’s likely specific to a particular recycling program or company, and you should check their guidelines to understand its meaning.

What is the recycle symbol 1?

Recycle symbol 1 represents PETE or Polyethylene Terephthalate. It’s commonly found on items like beverage bottles, microwavable food trays, and some clothing items.

What does 3Rs stand for?

The 3Rs stand for Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. They represent a waste hierarchy, where the goal is first to reduce waste, then to reuse items as much as possible, and finally to recycle materials.


  • Jen Wheeler

    Jen Wheeler, co-founder of Recycling-Revolution.com, holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford. A renowned environmentalist, she's championed sustainable practices at global events and leads EcoBright Solutions, focusing on recycling education and eco-friendly products.

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