Posts tagged ‘recycle triangle’

What Does the Recycling Symbol Mean Pt. 6 – The No. 4

The recycling symbol number 4 is telling you that the plastic is made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is a thermoplastic made from petroleum (BOO!).  It was the first grade of polyethylene, produced in 1933 by Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) using a high pressure process via free radical polymerisation [1]. Its manufacture employs the same method today.  LDPE is supposedly commonly recycled, but we can’t find a citation indicating any proof or research done to substantiate the claim.


LDPE is widely used for manufacturing various containers, dispensing bottles, wash bottles, tubing, plastic bags for computer components, and various molded laboratory equipment. Its most common use is in plastic bags. Other products made from it include:

* Trays & general purpose containers
* Food storage and laboratory containers
* Corrosion-resistant work surfaces
* Parts that need to be weldable and machinable
* Parts that require flexibility, for which it serves very well
* Very soft and pliable parts
* Six-pack soda can rings
* Extrusion coating on paperboard and aluminum laminated for beverage cartons.
* Computer components, such as hard drives, screen cards and disk-drives.
* Playground Slides
* Plastic Bags

Remember, no matter what the symbol (which coaxes most people into feeling that the product is safe for the environment because it can be recycled), there are many more factors that play into if this plastic will ever be recycled rather than wasted.  Your local government’s recycling laws are the biggest obstacle to plastics actually being recycled (go find yours at whatever the name of your town or state it with a .gov attached rather than a .com or .net).

The best thing you can do is use products that are made with the environment and your health in mind.  Check out our extensive supply of reusable water bottles and reusable shopping bags at and help us fight The Disposable Water Bottle Beast.


August 17, 2009 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

What Does the Recycling Symbol Mean?

We typically see the the Recycling triangle/multi-arrow symbol in a variety of ways on a multitude of product containers – from disposable water bottles to cardboard boxes, yet there are over 40 variants of the symbol (that we could find) and many have different meanings…and then there are the ones with numbers in the middle.  There is one MAJOR difference between the symbols – one means Recyclable and the other Recycled, the distinction being that one product has the POTENTIAL of being used again and the other is already made from recycled materials.  Being aware of these symbols meanings AND your local communities laws for what can be recycled and what cannot is critical to an effective recycling system both locally and nationally.


Below we’ve collected a list of facts that will help understand the Recycle triangle and how to decipher its purpose.  We also included some links…


April 28, 2009 at 12:32 am 1 comment

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