That number you see within the recycling symbol on recyclable plastic is called the “resin identification code” or RIC. One pet peeve: the recycling symbol and RIC are often too small, not easy to see, or are difficult to find. Also, some plastics and plastic parts that could be recycled are not labeled.
The seven different types of recyclable plastics are listed below, along with a small subset of initial and recycling uses. New applications for recycled plastics are being invented all the time! Perhaps you have some ideas.
Polymer: Polyethylene terephthalate (C10H8O4)n
Other names & abbreviations: PETE, PET, polyester
Common uses: beverage bottles, fibers for clothing
Recycling uses: non-food containers, strapping, carpet fiber
Polymer: High-density polyethylene (C2H4)n
Other names & abbreviations: HDPE, PE-HD
Common uses: milk jugs, food containers
Recycling uses: plastic lumber, parking bumpers, recycling bins, sheds
Polymer: Polyvinyl chloride (C2H3Cl)n
Other names & abbreviations: PVC, V
Common uses: bottles, non-food packaging
Recycling uses: pipes, fencing, flooring, lawn chairs, wire insulation
Polymer: Low-density polyethylene (C2H4)n
Other names & abbreviations: LDPE, PE-LD
Common uses: plastic bags, six-pack rings, containers, snap-on lids
Recycling uses: packaging foam, plastic film, garbage bags
Polymer: Polypropylene (C3H6)n
Other names & abbreviations: PP
Common uses: food containers, medical & lab equipment, pill bottles
Recycling uses: pallets, trays, landscape borders, compost bins, bike racks
Polymer: Polystyrene (C8H8)n
Other names & abbreviations: PS
Common uses: plastic cutlery, disposable razors, CD & DVD cases
Recycling uses: packaging material, insulation sheets, park benches
Polymer: Other Plastics (acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate, etc.)
Other names & abbreviations: OTHER, O
Common uses: plastic lenses, food packaging & bottles, LCD screens, etc.
Recycling uses: plastic lumber, bus shelters, traffic lights, signs, etc.