The world is using plastics today at a remarkable rate, faster than ever before. With all that plastic that’s getting used, knowing how to dispose of it properly is a must for consumers everywhere. Unfortunately, not all people know how to properly dispose of plastics or which plastics can be recycled. Here are the seven types of plastics you need to know so you can properly recycle your waste items.

  1. Category 1, or PET plastics, is one of the most common plastics in packaging products. 5,764 million pounds of PET bottles and jars were available for recycling in 2013. About 85% of those bottles are used for food and beverages, or 4,899 million pounds.
  2. Category 2, or HDPE, are stiffer plastics that are often used in products like plastic water jugs, plastic containers for detergents, and some plastic bags. It’s one of the easiest plastics to recycle, and is commonly found in recycled plastic products.
  3. Category 3 plastics are PVC plastics and are found in everything from blister packaging to piping to window frames. PVC is incredibly resistant to UV damage, but unfortunately comes with the downside of generally not being recyclable by usual means.
  4. Category 4, LDPE plastics, are typically used for thinner plastic packaging like shrink wrap. These plastics are fairly safe to recycle and are accepted by a growing number of recycling facilities.
  5. Category 5, PP plastic, is used in items that require higher heat resistance. This includes everything from snack packaging to packing tape and rope. Very little PP plastic is recycled in the United States, but the amount of recycled PP plastic continues to grow.
  6. Category 6, PS, is fairly common and more recognizable by its full name, polystyrene. This type of plastic is often used in food containers, packaging inserts, and more. Unfortunately, these items are generally not recyclable plastics, and can create a large amount of waste in landfills.
  7. Category 7 is a catch-all category for any plastics that don’t fall into the other categories, meaning that just about any plastic item could fall into this category: plastic water jugs, toys, packaging, and more. Because of the variety, there are few standards in place for these plastics.

Most plastic packaging will have a number somewhere to indicate what category it falls into. Use this information to help you properly dispose of your plastic water jugs, food packaging, toys, and other potentially recyclable items.