Over the past few decades, the use of plastic in manufacturing has increased exponentially. From disposable packaging, like bottles and bags, to durable goods, like watches and appliances, many products that were formerly made of “natural” materials are now made of plastic.

Not all plastic, however, is the same. Each type, or resin, has a unique chemical formula which gives it special properties. In 1988 the plastics industry established identification codes to make separation of different polymers easier and more consistent for recycling.

There are seven different types of plastic resins that are commonly used to package household products. The identification codes listed below can be found stamped on most plastic packaging.

Even though CSWD accepts Plastics #1-7, we still cannot accept plastic bags, filmy plastic of any kind (e.g. shrink wrap and bubble wrap) or Styrofoam. We also cannot accept any plastic that does not meet certain dimensions. All plastics to be recycled in Chittenden County need to be a minimum of 2 inches on any two sides, and a maximum  of 2 feet on any one side.

For a complete list of what plastic packaging can be recycled in Chittenden County, see the Recycling List.

Plastic resin codes and what they mean

Symbol
Resin Name
Examples
CSWD Rules
polyethylene terephthalatesoda bottles and most water bottles, some clear containers for juice, ketchup, cooking oil, and salad dressingEmpty bottles and discard caps.
high density polyethylenemilk and cider jugs, detergent bottles, some dairy tubs, some shampoo bottles, some plastic bagsNo plastic bags or other "filmy" plastic allowed, regardless of the number! Empty bottles and discard caps.
polyvinyl chloridesome household cleaner bottles, some cooking oil bottles
low density polyethylenemost plastic film bags, most flexible lids, some squeezable plastic containersNo plastic bags or other "filmy" plastic allowed, regardless of the number!
polypropylenesome dairy tubs and take out containers
polystyreneIncludes most Styrofoam products such as meat trays, cups, take out containers, packaging blocks and peanuts. Other non-Styrofoam products include dairy tubs and CD cases.No Styrofoam of any kind allowed.
othersome squeezable bottles and other packaging made from unusual resins or layers of different resin typesSome items labeled #7 are now made from cornstarch and are NOT recyclable. These items usually also are stamped with "PLA" (polylactic acid) and "compostable."