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Understanding the Grades | Marck Recycling

Plastic recycling symbolsEver wonder what that little number inside of the recycling symbol on your shampoo bottle means? Believe it or not, it does mean something; it’s the recycling grade of the material, and it matters. Below is an explanation of the grades for both plastic and paper.


  • #1: PETE or PET – Technically called polyethylene terephthalate. PET is clear, tough, and has good gas and moisture barrier properties. This resin is commonly used in beverage bottles and many injection-molded consumer product containers. Cleaned, recycled PET flakes and pellets are used for spinning fiber for carpet yarns, producing fiberfill and geo-textiles.
  •  #2: High Density Polyethylene – HDPE is a versatile plastic that’s used in lots of products, like Bottles for milk, water, juice, cosmetics, shampoo, dish and laundry detergents, and household cleaners. Bags for groceries and retail purchases. Cereal box liners. Reusable shipping containers. In addition topackaging, HDPE’s major uses are in injection molding applications, extruded pipe and conduit, plastic wood composites, and wire and cable covering.
  • #3: Vinyl or PVC – A heavy plastic commonly used in storing cleaners and detergents, #3 plastics contain many toxins and are harder to recycle.
  • #4: Low Density Polyethylene – LDPE plastics are thin and pliable, and are used for products like Bags for dry cleaning, newspapers, bread, frozen foods, fresh produce, and household garbage. Shrink wrap and stretch film. Coatings for paper milk cartons and hot and cold beverage cups. Container lids. Toys, Squeezable bottles (e.g., honey and mustard). In addition to packaging, LDPE’s major uses are in injection molding applications, adhesives and sealants, and bag manufacturing.
  • #5: Polypropylene – Commonly found in medicine bottles and straws,packaging and labeling, textiles, stationery, plastic parts. In addition to packaging, PP’s major uses are in fibers, appliances and consumer products, including durable applications such as automotive and carpeting.
  • #6: Polystyrene – PS plastics are used in cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, hinged takeout containers (clamshells), meat and poultry trays, and rigid food containers (e.g., yogurt  cups). These items may be made with foamed or non-foamed PS. Protective foam packaging for furniture, electronics and other delicate items. Packing peanuts, Compact disc cases and aspirin bottles. In addition to packaging, PS’s major uses are in agricultural trays, electronic housings, cable spools, building insulation, coat hangers, and medical products and toys.
  • #7: Miscellaneous – All plastics that don’t fit other categories.


  • Old Corrugated Containers – Also known as OCC, this is the standard, recyclable corrugated cardboard used in many cardboard boxes. It is one of the most commonly recycled materials.
  • Mixed Paper – A broad category that includes discarded mail, phone books, and magazines. Mixed paper is often used as a raw material to recycle into egg cartons, chipboard, and insulation.
  • Old Newspapers – Yes, this is its own category. Old newspapers are revived and commonly recycled into other newspapers and insulation.
  • High Grade Deinked Paper – This includes letterhead, copy papers, and envelopes that have gone through the printing process. It is most commonly turned into tissue paper.
August 10, 2015 | Paper, Plastic