The numbering system was implemented by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) in 1988 as a way to differentiate from different polymers used in different types of packaging; they do not indicate which packages are recyclable and which are not. Each polymer is given a number between 1 and 7 which tells more of the composition of the plastic rather than the recyclability. However certain numbers, like 1 and 2, are commonly accepted in curbside recycling; they include water bottles and milk jugs. Number 6, which is basically styrofoam, is also widely recycled. 3, 4, 5, and 7 are not necessarily unable to be recycled, but they often need to be brought to specific recycling centers or to the original manufacturers to be reprocessed. As far as which plastics can go in the curbside bin, it depends on city and municipal recycling programs which can vary from town to town. Call your local recycling program to learn more.
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