BUYER BEWARE: This symbol with a number in the middle on the bottom of a plastic container doesn't necessarily mean it is easily recycled. It is simply a way to identify what type of plastic it is. Both as a consumer and as a meeting planner it is important to know what your food is served on(in) and how readily it can be kept out of the local landfill. Here is a quick guide for you...
- #1 PETE or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate): Used for clear beverage bottles. Widely recyclable, check with your local recycler.
- #2 HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) : Used for colored bottles and jugs, yogurt containers and other tubs. Widely recyclable, check with your local recycler.
- #3 PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Used in some cling wrap and bottles as well as pipes and other construction materials. Not widely recyclable.
- #4 LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene): used for garbage bags, food storage bags, some cling wraps and bottles. Not widely recyclable.
- #5 PP (Polypropylene): Used in butter tubs, baby bottles and other rigid containers. Not widely recyclable.
- #6 PS (Polystryene): Used in foam trays, takeout containers, coolers and egg cartons (also those little black plates you see at banquets). Not widely recyclable. Recommended to avoid.
- #7 Other (includes polycarbonate and mixed materials). This is a tough one. While some things in this category are not widely recyclable, biodegradable and compostable containers are often lumped into this "other" category. When you see #7, ask more questions.
Check with the venue or local hauler to determine what types of plastic are readily recyclable. As an example in my area, #1 and #2 plastic can recycle curbside, all others except #6 can be taken to a local recycling center. What about #6? Well, good luck finding anyplace to accept it unless you happen to have a freight car full of it.
Keep these numbers in mind when purchasing or ordering.