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[GreenYes] Re: Mouth Smaller at Neck - Why?

Years ago when I first started learning about plastics recycling, I
found this article to be extremely helpful. It's from the Ecology
Center in Berkeley CA

Here is an excerpt:

One factor that complicates plastic recycling is that there are
thousands of types of plastic used for consumer packaging today. The
plastic industry devised a numbering system to categorize plastic into
seven general types. (See sidebar.) Each plastic container must be
separated by type before it can be used again to make a new product. Of
the seven types, only two kinds, Polyethylene Theraphalate, known as
#1, and High Density Polyethelyne (HDPE) - or #2, are typically
collected and reprocessed. And of these two plastic types, only
narrow-neck bottles are typically purchased by remanufacturers because
"bottle-grade" plastic is more easily melted and repelletized and has
established uses. Thus, in Berkeley, only #1 and #2 bottles are
collected at the curb. (The majority of plastic bottles are made from
#1 and #2 plastic.)
Yet, many types of plastic containers remain outside of the recycling
loop, such as yogurt cups, plastic bags, styrofoam, and take-out food
containers. Even though some of these are labeled #1 or #2 plastics,
they cannot be recycled with the bottles. Why? Read on as we answer
this and other frequently asked questions.

Why can't my yogurt cup be recycled? It has a #2 on the bottom, just
like the milk jug you accept. What's the difference?
That yogurt cup may have a #2 embossed on the bottom inside the
well-recognized chasing-arrows symbol, but that doesn't necessarily
mean it's recyclable.

The number on the bottom of the container indicates the type of plastic
it's made from. A yogurt cup may be made of High Density Polyethylene
(HDPE - #2), the same material as a milk jug or bleach bottle. However,
it contains different dyes, plasticizers, UV inhibitors, softeners, and
other chemicals required to shape it into a cup. This mix of additives
changes the properties of the plastic and makes it incompatible with
the plastic used to make bottles.
Adding to the confusion, the plastics industry began using the chasing
arrows symbol with their numbering system. This has misled people into
believing that any container with a chasing arrows symbol on it is
"recyclable." The industry says it never intended the
chasing-arrows symbol to indicate that a container was recyclable or
had recycled content; they just thought it was a catchy graphic to
highlight the identifying number. Even though the symbol is misleading,
the industry has resisted efforts to modify it.

For more info, try the website for the International Plastics Task

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