What Are Number 5 Plastics?

Plastic recycling is becoming a challenge, especially number 5 plastics. The recycling symbol on the bottom of a plastic product does not necessarily indicate that the item can be recycled.

That number surrounded by chasing arrows is a resin identification code and tells users what kind of plastic they’re holding.

The number 5 with the recycling symbol indicates polypropylene, often just shortened to PP.

These plastics are particularly hard and heat resistant. They are often used in prescription medicine bottles, yogurt cups, hummus tubs, single-use cutlery, and some packaging for personal care products like deodorant, lotion, or shampoo.

Lids of single-use drink bottles are often also made of number 5 plastic as well as a great deal of single-use laboratory and medical supplies at hospitals, clinics, and labs.

Number 5 plastics were widely accepted in both curbside and drop-off recycling centers before China’s National Sword policy was introduced in 2018. That is when China stopped accepting our plastic waste for recycling.

We’re experiencing a plastics crisis around the world so one should do what one can to eliminate plastic waste. One good place to start is to avoid plastics, like polypropylene, that can’t be recycled easily.

If possible, skip the plastic and buy your yogurt in bulk or in glass containers — or make your own! Order a three-month supply of medicine instead of one, cutting down on packaging while saving a trip to the pharmacy.

You might also consider companies that delivery household products and food in reusable containers. Additionally, look for ways to reuse or upcycle your plastic containers. Your number 5 plastic yogurt containers also just make great organizers!

It’s also a good idea to contact the manufacturer of your favorite product and ask them to come up with more earth-friendly packaging.

This story is based on Earth 911 article; edited by Clean-Future Team