Plastic Recycling

Ignore the chasing arrows!

Clean plastic bottles, jugs and dairy tubs are accepted in all areas.

Why don't you accept all plastic items that have chasing arrows on them?

Recycling Plastic The number inside the chasing arrows imprinted on many plastic items identifies the type of resin used in making the product.

However, some items with the same number cannot be recycled together because they are manufactured using a different heating and molding process. (For example, markets that accept #1 plastic bottles often don't want #1 plastic cups.)

In addition, the cost of collecting, sorting and remanufacturing some items exceeds the value of the recycled plastic. And so many plastic items cannot currently be recycled, even though they have chasing arrows.

To avoid confusion and contamination, ignore the numbers and remember: Put clean plastic bottles, jugs and dairy tubs in your curbside recycling container. If you live in Seattle, Federal Way or unincorporated King or Snohomish County, you can also put plastic cups in your recycling. All other plastic should be reused or go in the garbage. (Reusing an item saves 20 times as much energy as recycling it.)

Clean plastic film (stretch wrap, bags, etc.) is accepted from commercial customers only.  Plastic film must be put in clear plastic bags that are securely tied to avoid contamination of other recyclables.

Clean plastic bags are accepted in recycling containers at many grocery stores. However:

  • Plastic bags are a major cause of litter and waste.

    It is much better to use a durable shopping bag.

  • Plastic bags cause litter, slow sorting and jam machinery at recycling centers.
Empty recyclables out of bags and boxes, and put them loose in recycling containers so that they can be easily identified and sorted.

From MSNBC -
Battle of the Bags: Paper versus Plastic video

Plastic Recycling Yes & No
More on paper versus plastic

Clean polystyrene foam packing peanuts and bubble wrap are accepted for reuse at many mail houses. Call the Peanut Hotline, 1-800-828-2214, for the nearest site or business that accepts clean leftover packing peanuts for reuse.

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