Where Do I Discard...?
Find locations near you to recycle items.
There are several different kinds of plastics. Below are the most common with a description of the products they are generally used in. Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties accept plastics with symbols 1-7 for recycling.
PET plastic is the most common for single-use bottled beverages, because it is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to recycle. It poses low risk of leaching breakdown products.
Found in: Soft drink, water and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers; ovenable food trays.
HDPE is a versatile plastic with many uses, especially for packaging. It carries low risk of leaching and is readily recyclable into many goods.
Found in: Milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box liners
PVC is tough and weathers well, so it is commonly used for piping, siding and similar applications. PVC contains chlorine, so its manufacture can release highly dangerous dioxins. If you must cook with PVC, don't let the plastic touch food. Also never burn PVC, because it releases toxins.
Found in: Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping
LDPE is a flexible plastic with many applications. Historically it has not been accepted through most American curbside recycling programs, but more and more communities are starting to accept it.
Found in: Squeezable bottles; bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags; tote bags; clothing; furniture; carpet
Polypropylene has a high melting point, and so is often chosen for containers that must accept hot liquid. It is gradually becoming more accepted by recyclers.
Found in: Some yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws, medicine bottles
Polystyrene can be made into rigid or foam products -- in the latter case it is popularly known as the trademark Styrofoam. Evidence suggests polystyrene can leach potential toxins into foods. The material was long on environmentalists' hit lists for dispersing widely across the landscape, and for being notoriously difficult to recycle. Most places still don't accept it, though it is gradually gaining traction.
Found in: Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases
A wide variety of plastic resins that don't fit into the previous categories are lumped into number 7. A few are even made from plants (polyactide) and are compostable. Polycarbonate is number 7, and is the hard plastic that has parents worried these days, after studies have shown it can leach potential hormone disruptors.
Found in: Three- and five-gallon water bottles, 'bullet-proof' materials, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and computer cases, signs and displays, certain food containers, nylon