They are there to let the people at recycling plants know which type of plastics they have (so they don’t have to do a chemical analysis of each piece of plastic that comes in to tell what it is). They are indicators of the materials used in the plastic. Here’s what the codes mean:
1. PET; PETE (polyethylene terephthalate). Picked up through almost all curbside recycling programs. Most plastic water and soda bottles fall into this category.
2. HDPE (high density polyethylene). Picked up through almost all curbside recycling programs; a few programs only allow containers in this category with necks.
3. V (Vinyl) or PVC. Very rarely accepted. A few manufacturers of plastic lumber will take this plastic.
4. LDPE (low density polyethylene). Not often accepted by curbside programs. Some communities have alternative drop-off sites for this plastic.
5. PP (polypropylene). Accepted by some but not all curbside programs, and slowly becoming more frequently accepted.
6. PS (polystyrene). Accepted by a few curbside programs, and gradually becoming more accepted.
7. Miscellaneous. Traditionally not recycled, but in recent years a few curbside programs are beginning to accept these plastics.
The website I got these from is pretty informative, the link is posted below:
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