Where Can I Recycle #3 Through #6 Plastic?
Hey Mr. Green,
In our rural area, we can only recycle #1 and #2 plastic bottles. What is the best way to dispose of other plastic containers? Neither landfill nor burning are good. Do I have another choice?
—Kelley, in Millerstown, Pennsylvania
Do not despair. You might find recyclers closer to home than you think. I recommend checking out lists of locations provided by plastic manufacturers as well as the recycling experts at Earth911. Here are some ideas for plastics beyond #2:
#3 (vinyl). Check out the list of vinyl (#3) recyclers provided by the Vinyl Institute. To find locations in your state, click on Search.
#4 (LDPE—Low Density Polyethylene) is the plastic used in bags, films, and lighter plastics and is now accepted at many retail locations. Go to Earth911’s fabulous recycling info site. Scroll down to find its Recycling Locator. Just type in your zip code and it will list which stores take them.
#5 (PP—Polypropylene) is the plastic used in yogurt and cottage cheese containers and the like. If you can’t find any local takers on earth911, you can mail your #5 to a recycler called Preserve, which has an aptly named program called Gimme 5.
#6 (PS—Polystyrene) is the foam plastic used for packing materials, Styrofoam cups, trays, etc. See the Plastic Loose Fill Council’s directory of places that take those fluffy peanuts used in packaging. The trade organization EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) Industry Alliance provides another directory, including a list of recyclers to which you can mail #6 plastic.
But don’t just focus on containers; aim to recycle anything made of plastic. We now discard 32.5 million tons of the stuff and only recycle 3 million tons, a paltry 9.2 percent, according to the latest report from the EPA.
And do keep in mind the possibilities for creative reuse of plastic. There are loads of ideas on the internet, some ingenious and some positively loopy but entertaining.—Bob Schildgen