IDC Recycles

IDC encourages customers to use recyclable material where possible. We work closely with our customers, resin suppliers and vendors to make this happen. We put the recycle number on the plastic parts that we make.

There are many types of plastic in common use. Plastic must be sorted by type for recycling since each type melts at a different temperature and displays different properties. The plastics industry has developed identification codes to label different types of plastic. The identification system divides plastic into seven distinct types and uses a number code generally found on the bottom of containers. The following table explains the seven-code system. 

Plastic #1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE)

Common uses: 2 liter soda bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars. This is the most widely recycled plastic and often has redemption value under the California "Bottle Bill."

This is the most common plastic you are likely to encounter. Soda bottles are made of PET, as are most household cleaning solution containers. PET is being used today to create fabrics and carpet fibers. PET is one of the safest plastics to produce. Currently, it is estimated that less than 24% of PET plastic is recycled and more is produced every year.

Plastic #2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Common uses: detergent bottles, milk jugs.

A close relative of PET, HDPE is just what the name implies – a high-density (i.e. stronger) plastic compound. Check your milk jug or the bottle that your detergent came in, and the odds are pretty good that you'll find an HDPE label on the bottom. Again, this is plastic is relatively safe to produce and rather simple to recycle. Once it is sorted, it is broken down into small flakes, cleaned and reused. Although it is the most often recycled plastic, color additives still prove to be an obstacle, although there is a motion in the industry to standardize the production of this compound to improve its reusability.

Plastic #3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Common uses: plastic pipes, outdoor furniture, shrink wrap, water bottles, salad dressing and liquid detergent containers. Please note that plastic bags are not accepted for recycling curbside. However, Safeway Stores, Albertson's Food and Drug, Raley's, Ralphs Food Companies, and G&G Supermarkets accept plastic bags for recycling. Please remove food waste and receipts.

Vinyl is the second most produced plastic in the world today. It is lightweight, soft, and highly adaptable. It is used for everything from providing the construction industry with materials to creating inexpensive toys. Unfortunately, vinyl is dangerous to produce, and leaves a series of carcinogenic byproducts behind that are often released into the environment. Green peace is leading a famous campaign against vinyl production. There is a great deal of concern about vinyl toys which might transfer dangerous palates (plasticizers used as a softening agent) to the children who play with them and about dioxins being released into the environment when vinyl is burned. Vinyl is rarely recycled; the industry focus is on more consumer visible products (i.e. soda bottles and milk jugs).

Plastic #4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Common uses: dry cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, food storage containers. Safeway Stores and Lucky Food Centers accept HDPE (#2) and LDPE (#4) plastic bags for recycling. 

Just as HDPE explains its purpose in its name, Low Density Polyethylene does the same thing. A soft, thin, malleable plastic, LDPE is best known as the common grocery bag. Used everyday as part of disposable diapers, garbage sacks, and squeeze drink bottles, LDPE raises a limited number of environmental concerns and is relatively easy to recycle. It is bailed, broken into flakes, cleaned, and reformed. Unfortunately, since LDPE makes up most of the plastic sealant on manufactured items, almost none of it is recycled and the demand increases for it every year. One study determined in 1996 that a mere 3.2% of all LDPE produced that year was made from recycled products.

Plastic #5: Polypropylene (PP)

Common uses: bottle caps, drinking straws. Recycling centers almost never take #5 plastic. 

The use of PP is growing every year. Heat and chemical resistant, PP is used for rug backing, clothing, and for automobile parts. It is commonly produced and commonly recycled. Although it faces some difficulties on the recycling front because it is so often mixed with other compounds for use, its use in car batteries has improved its recycling statistics drastically. Since car batteries are required by law to be recycled because of their lead content, PP is recovered as well.

Plastic #6: Polystyrene (PS)

Common uses: packaging pellets or "Styrofoam peanuts," cups, plastic tableware, meat trays, to-go "clam shell" containers. Many shipping/packaging stores will accept polystyrene peanuts and other packaging materials for reuse. Cups, meat trays, and other containers that have come in contact with food are more difficult to recycle.

The most common name for polystyrene is Styrofoam. (Styrofoam is actually a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company.) A lightweight (95% air) compound, PS is known for its insulation properties. Styrofoam cups, packing materials, insulation: PS is everywhere. Known as one of the big bad guys in the plastics industry, PS has been causing problems for years. Once it came to light that CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons – the chemicals known to contribute to the breakdown of the ozone layer) were used in the production of PS, the industry was forced to phase them out of the production process in the late 1980' s. Next came the battle over the PS packing materials that kept showing up in waterways and choking out aquatic creatures; recycling agents who would deal with PS were refusing to take pellets and they were getting out of control. Again, consumer and media pressure has lead to the phasing out of traditional PS packing pellets, with biodegradable substitutes coming to the forefront in recent years. The market for PS recycling is dwindling; hopefully environmentally friendly replacements will make the recycling question a non-issue within the next few years.

Plastic #7: Other

Common uses: certain kinds of food containers and Tupperware. This plastic category, as its name of "other" implies, is any plastic other 

This is the category of leftovers. It includes blended and unblended polymers and encompasses numerous products. (Polycarbonates alone are used for eye glasses, shatter-proof plastic, and thousands of medical devices.) Again, recycling of this category is limited due to the challenges inherent in sorting and reusing the materials; often the recovered plastic is too brittle or chemically unstable to be used. The only exception to this rule is plastic lumber that is being used with more and more success with each passing year.

Special Note:

You can help keep the costs of collection, sorting and reprocessing down and keep the value of the plastic high by recycling only those types of plastic that are currently accepted for recycling.




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