Since You Asked: Recycling plastics ... by the numbers

I was wondering whether you could clarify for me what "numbers" of plastics can or can't be placed in curbside recycling in Medford.

Can any 1 or 2 plastic go in? What about the rest of the types?

— April R., Medford

Rogue Disposal and Recycling accepts plastic bottles and jugs that are rinsed and have had their lids removed. Plastic tubs aren't accepted.

The rule of thumb posted on the company's transfer station Web page advises that plastics for recycling should have necks smaller than their bases.

The numbers don't actually have anything to do with the recyclability of plastics, explained Denise Wolgamott, Rogue Disposal's recycling coordinator. They are simply codes identifying the plastic resin used to make the container.

The identifying numbers were developed and promoted by the Society of the Plastics Industry to provide an easy way to identify the resin content of bottles and containers commonly found in the residential waste stream.

The most common types of plastic resins in packaging are polyethylene terephthalate (PETE), high density polyethylene (HDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl), low density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS), which are assigned the digits 1 through 6.

The number 7 identifies any other resin or a mixture, the Society of the Plastics Industry's Web site explains.

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