Plastics Recycling

We use hundreds of types of plastics in our daily lives, so how do we know which ones are recyclable and which ones are not? Most plastics used in the products you buy have the numbers 1-7 inside the chasing arrow symbol usually located on the bottom of the container. These numbers are resin codes developed by the plastics industry to help them properly sort plastics for recycling. Just because a plastic item has one of these numbers on it, does not mean that it is recyclable in your area. Always confirm with your hauler or recycling center the types of plastics they accept.

Here is a guide to help you know which types of plastics are recyclable and which are not in the Kansas City metro area.

Recycle these...

Type Examples Where do I recycle it? Please Note
Resin code symbol for polyethylene terephthalate: Number one inside chasing arrows, with letters "P", "E", "T", "E" below.

Soda Bottleplastic clamshell


Soft drinks, water, juice, plastic clamshells, peanut butter & mayonnaise jars.

Photo of blue curbside recycling binPhoto of large curbside recycling bin with lid on wheelsphoto of drop-off recycling center

Curbside & Recycling Centers

photo of hand holding plastic bottle under kitchen sink tap filling with water.

Give all recyclable bottles and containers a quick rinse before recycling.

Resin code symbol for high-density polyethylene: Number two inside chasing arrows, with letters "H", "D", "P", "E" below.

milk jugFabric Softener bottlebody wash bottleslaundry detergent bottle


Milk jugs, toiletry bottles, laundry detergent bottles

Photo of blue curbside recycling binPhoto of large curbside recycling bin with lid on wheelsphoto of drop-off recycling center

Curbside & Recycling Centers

Resin code symbols for high-density polyethylene and low-density polyethylene: Number two inside chasing arrows, with letters "H", "D", "P", "E" below, and Number four inside chasing arrows, with letters "L", "D", "P", "E" below, with phrase "bags and film" at bottom.

plastic air pillows shippingplastic bagnewspaper in bag

loaf of bread in bagoranges in produce bagroll of paper towels in plastic overwrapplastic overwrap from case of bottled water

sandwich, celery and cookies, each in a food storage bag6-pack of bathroom tissue in plastic overwrap

Bags & Film: air pillows (shipping), grocery/retail bags, case wrap, newspaper bags, bread bags, produce bags, food storage bags, napkin, paper towel, bathroom tissue and diaper wrap packaging
More examples of recyclable plastic film can be found on plasticfilmrecycling.org

fictional grocery storefront
Photo of fictional "big box" storefront
Collection barrels at grocery or big box stores

Photo of recycling bin with plastic bags mixed with acceptable materials, with international "no" symbol (red circle with diagonal line through center) superimposed over image

Bags and film are only accepted at grocery stores and big box stores, not in your curbside bin or at your recycling center. There are a few types of non-recyclable bags and film. Tip: Store bags in one bag until next trip to store

Resin code symbol for low-density polyethylene: Number four inside chasing arrows, with letters "L", "D", "P", "E" below, with word "rigid" at bottom.

Photo of mustard bottlePhoto of pile of plastic lids and caps

Caps & lids, some food packaging

Photo of blue curbside recycling binPhoto of large curbside recycling bin with lid on wheelsphoto of drop-off recycling center

Curbside & Recycling Centers

Photo of plastic lids and caps inside plastic jar

Plastic caps and lids fall through sorting equipment. Solutions:  Put the cap back on the plastic bottle before recycling. For all other plastic caps and lids, store them in a plastic jar or tub. When the container is full, toss it into a recycling bin.

Resin code symbol for polypropylene: Number five inside chasing arrows, with letters "P", "P" below. Yogurtmargarine tubfood storage container
plant pots and trays
Tubs & Jars: Yogurt, margarine, sour cream, food storage containers and plant pots/trays from nurseries and garden centers

Photo of blue curbside recycling binPhoto of large curbside recycling bin with lid on wheelsphoto of drop-off recycling center

Curbside & Recycling Centers & select nurseries

plant pots

Thoroughly rinse out planting pots and trays before recycling. Dirt contaminates recyclables lowering their recyclability and value.

Resin code symbol for polystyrene: Number six inside chasing arrows, with letters "P", "S" below, and word "rigid" at bottom

plastic deli containerPlastic cup

Deli containers, plastic plates, bowls and cups

Photo of blue curbside recycling binPhoto of large curbside recycling bin with lid on wheelsphoto of drop-off recycling center

Curbside, Recycling Centers

photo of food on plastic plates, with international "no" symbol (red circle with diagonal line through center) superimposed over image

Thoroughly rinse disposable cups, plates, bowls and containers. Food and beverages contaminate recyclables lowering their recyclability and value.

Resin code symbol for polystyrene: Number six inside chasing arrows, with letters "P", "S" below with word Styrofoam at bottom.

Styrofoam packing "peanuts"styrofoam packing piece

Clean, white Styrofoam™ block, sheet & peanuts

ACH Foam Technologies logo

ACH Foam Tecnologies
1400 N. 3rd Street
Kansas City, KS 66101
(913) 321-4114
Mon. – Thurs., 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

photo of different polystyrene products that cannot be recycled in greater Kansas City, with international "no" symbol (red circle with diagonal line through center) superimposed over image

Only clean, white Styrofoam blocks, molds, sheets and peanuts are recyclable in the metro area. Styrofoam food and drink containers are not recyclable.

Resin code symbol for "other" plastics, such as acrylic, polycarbonate, polyactic fibers, nylon and fiberglass: Number seven inside chasing arrows, with word "other" below.

Water cooler bottlePlastic potato chip container

Water cooler bottles, some food packaging

Photo of blue curbside recycling binPhoto of large curbside recycling bin with lid on wheelsphoto of drop-off recycling center

Curbside & Recycling Centers

photo of drinking cup made from plant-based resin, compostable in commercial facility

The #7 indicates that the plastic is made with a resin other than #1- #6 or is made of more than one type of resin. It can also mean that the product is made of from a non-plastic material such as these compostable cups made from cornstarch.

Outdoor items & toys

child's plastic chairplastic watering canplastic log cabin playhouse

child's plastic carblue plastic Adirondack chairplastic toy slide

Jungle gyms, riding toys, picnic tables, sandboxes.

Photo of fictional thrift storefront
Habitat for Humanity KC ReStore Sign

Thrift stores, Habitat ReStores

Habitat ReStores and thrift stores accept donations of large outdoor items and toys that are clean and in good working condition.

Building materials

photo of window blindsHouse with vinyl sidingphoto of vinyl fencing

Towel bars, window blinds & shades, patio furniture, vinyl fencing, tile & flooring.

Habitat for Humanity KC ReStore Sign

Habitat ReStores
 

Habitat ReStores accept donations of new and gently used residential building supplies that are clean and in good working condition.

 

Don’t recycle these...

Type Examples Why can’t I recycle it?

Styrofoam™ food containers

styrofoam food containers: restaurant takeout clamshell, coffee cups, meat traystyrofoam egg carton

Takeout cartons, egg cartons, meat trays, coffee cups

  • Food contamination
  • Low economic value

Microwave food trays

microwave meal traymicrowave meal tray

Microwave food trays

  • Food contamination
  • Low economic value

Six-pack rings

plastic six-pack rings

Soda, Beer, etc.

  • Not recoverable from mixed curbside recycling stream. 
  • Clipping rings prior to disposal is recommeded, can be hazardous to wildlife.

PE-LD

PE-LD 4 packing materials
  • Often mistaken for Styrofoam
  • Labeled #4
  • Squeezable
  • Bends, doesn’t break
  • No local market

Cutlery & Straws

four colorful drinking strawsplastic cutlery: fork, knife and spoon
  • Fall through sorting machinery
  • Food contamination
  • Low economic value

Medical & personal hygiene

Prescription medication bottlessyringephoto of medical tubingphoto of back of baby wearing diaper

Prescription bottles, syringes, medical tubing, diapers

  • Hazardous

Hazardous substance containers

automotive and lawn & garden productsfive-gallon bucket labeled "paint"

Automotive fluids, lawn & garden products, paint containers

  • Hazardous

Old building materials

stack of PVC pipebroken toilet seatphoto of PEVA shower curtain liner

PVC pipe, toilet seats, shower curtains, etc.

  • Broken
  • Non-working
  • Outdated
  • Does not meet building code
  • Low economic value

Plastic film & bags

potato chip bags with foil liningphoto of hand pulling plastic cling wrap from boxcoffee bag with foil liningplastic gift wrapempty bag of dog foodbagged saladvinyl bedding packagingBag of garden soilbag of shredded cheese

Potato chip, cling wrap, coffee, cellophane, pet food, pre-packaged food, garment & bedding, and lawn & garden

  • Contained hazardous material (lawn & garden chemical)
  • Low value (cling wrap & cellophane)
  • Metallic lining (chip & coffee)
  • Multiple material types
    (pre-packaged food & pet food)
  • Vinyl (garment & bedding bags)