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

Type Examples Where do I recycle it?
Plastics #1 - #7 Bottles Soft drink, water, juice, milk, ketchup, detergent, shampoo Curbside programs and drop-off recycling centers
Tubs & Jars Yogurt, margarine, sour cream, deli containers, food storage peanut butter, mayonnaise, apple sauce
Takeout containers Restaurant, deli, grocery store (rigid plastic only)
Clamshell packs Fruit, vegetables, toys, electronics, personal care products, light bulbs
Caps & lids Any type of plastic cap or lid
Pots Plant pots and trays from nurseries and garden centers Curbside programs, drop-off recycling centers, select nurseries
Styrofoam block, sheet & peanuts Clean, white block and sheet (commonly in appliance packaging), packing peanuts Select drop-off recycling centers, processors, and shipping retailers
Plastic bags and wrappers Shopping, newspaper, bread, cellophane, plastic wrappers Collection barrels at grocery or big box stores
Other types of recyclable or reusable plastics Large outdoor swing & play sets Jungle gyms, riding toys, picnic tables, sandboxes (reusable, structurally sound & complete, functional, cosmetically appealing) Thrift stores, Habitat ReStores
Electronic media CDs, DVDs, floppy disks The Surplus Exchange
Building materials Towel bars, window blinds & shades, patio furniture, vinyl fencing, tile & flooring (reusable, structurally sound & complete, functional, cosmetically appealing only) Habitat ReStores
 


Don’t Recycle

Type Examples Why can’t I recycle it?
Styrofoam™ food containers Takeout cartons, egg cartons, meat trays, coffee cups Food contamination, low economic value
Food trays Microwave food trays Food contamination, low economic value
Flatware Plates, cups, utensils Food contamination, low economic value, fall through sorting machinery
Medical & personal hygiene items Prescription bottles, syringes, diapers Hazardous
Hazardous substance containers Automotive fluids, lawn and garden products, paint containers Hazardous
Building materials (non-usable) PVC pipe, light fixtures, used vinyl siding Non-working, outdated, does not meet code
Bags made of multiple material types Potato chip, frozen vegetable, dog food, Ziploc®, coffee bags Made from multiple types of plastic resins or combined with other materials such as metal that cannot be recycled together


Proper Plastic Prep

Proper preparation of plastic materials can mean the difference between successful and unsuccessful recycling:

  • Confirm — Always confirm with your hauler or recycling center the types of plastics they accept.
  • Empty — Make sure containers are completely empty.
  • Rinse — Give containers a quick rinse to remove residue.
  • Crush – Large plastic bottles (2-liter or bigger)
  • Recycle caps & lids — Put caps back on bottles or fill a plastic tub with plastic lids and caps, put on the lid and recycle. Both methods keep caps and lids from falling through the sorting machinery and getting thrown out at the material recovery facility.