HomePET Knowledge BaseUnderstanding PET Plastic Numbers: What Do the Symbols on Your Bottles Mean?

Understanding PET Plastic Numbers: What Do the Symbols on Your Bottles Mean?

Plastic is ubiquitous in our daily lives, found in everything from packaging to household items.

Plastic is ubiquitous in our daily lives, found in everything from packaging to household items. Among the various types of plastic, PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is one of the most common, especially in beverage bottles and food containers. But what do the numbers and symbols on these PET bottles mean? This article delves into the recycling codes, their significance, and what they reveal about the plastic's safety and recyclability.

The Basics of PET Plastic

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is a type of plastic commonly used for packaging due to its strong, lightweight, and transparent properties. PET is also highly valued for its recyclability, making it a key player in the circular economy. Understanding the symbols and numbers on PET bottles is crucial for consumers aiming to make environmentally conscious choices and ensure proper recycling practices.

Decoding Recycling Symbols and Numbers

Recycling Code 1: PET or PETE

  • Description: The number 1 inside the recycling triangle symbol indicates PET or PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate).
  • Common Uses: Beverage bottles, food jars, and some household products.
  • Recyclability: PET is highly recyclable and is often turned into new bottles, containers, or polyester fibers for clothing.
  • Safety: PET is generally considered safe for single-use applications but should not be reused for food or drink storage due to potential leaching of chemicals over time.

Recycling Code 2: HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

  • Description: The number 2 signifies HDPE.
  • Common Uses: Milk jugs, detergent bottles, and some plastic bags.
  • Recyclability: HDPE is also highly recyclable, often repurposed into new containers, plastic lumber, and piping.
  • Safety: HDPE is safe and has a lower risk of leaching chemicals compared to other plastics.

Recycling Code 3: PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

  • Description: The number 3 inside the triangle represents PVC.
  • Common Uses: Plumbing pipes, shrink wrap, and some food packaging.
  • Recyclability: PVC is less commonly recycled and can release harmful chemicals if incinerated.
  • Safety: PVC can contain harmful additives such as phthalates and lead, posing health risks.

Recycling Code 4: LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)

  • Description: The number 4 indicates LDPE.
  • Common Uses: Plastic bags, six-pack rings, and some food wraps.
  • Recyclability: LDPE is less frequently recycled but can be turned into products like garbage can liners and floor tiles.
  • Safety: LDPE is considered safe for use but has limited recyclability compared to HDPE and PET.

Recycling Code 5: PP (Polypropylene)

  • Description: The number 5 stands for PP.
  • Common Uses: Yogurt containers, straws, and bottle caps.
  • Recyclability: Polypropylene is increasingly being accepted in recycling programs and can be transformed into signal lights, battery cables, and more.
  • Safety: PP is heat-resistant and generally safe for food contact.

Recycling Code 6: PS (Polystyrene)

  • Description: The number 6 inside the triangle denotes PS.
  • Common Uses: Disposable coffee cups, plastic food boxes, and cutlery.
  • Recyclability: Polystyrene is difficult to recycle and is often not accepted in curbside recycling programs.
  • Safety: PS can leach styrene, a potential carcinogen, making it less suitable for food and drink storage.

Recycling Code 7: Other (Various Plastics)

  • Description: The number 7 is a catch-all category for other plastics, including bioplastics and mixed materials.
  • Common Uses: Sunglasses, DVDs, and some food containers.
  • Recyclability: This category is the least recyclable due to the varied nature of the materials.
  • Safety: The safety of plastics in this category varies, with some being safe and others potentially hazardous.

Importance of Recycling PET

Recycling PET not only helps reduce environmental pollution but also conserves resources and energy. According to a report by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR), recycling PET can reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Moreover, recycling just one ton of PET saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.

Advances in PET Recycling Technology

Recent advancements in PET recycling technology have made the process more efficient and environmentally friendly. Techniques like chemical recycling break down PET into its monomers, allowing for the production of new, high-quality PET without the degradation associated with traditional mechanical recycling.

Introducing Wankai's Sustainable PET Solutions

At Wankai, we are committed to advancing PET recycling technology. Our products are designed with sustainability in mind, ensuring that our PET chips bottles and containers are of the highest quality and easily recyclable. We focus on innovative recycling methods and sustainable practices to lead the industry in reducing plastic waste and promoting a circular economy.

Wankai offers a range of high-quality PET chips and resins that meet food safety standards and boast high transparency and recycling value. Our bottle-grade PET is widely used in beverage, cosmetic, and food packaging, maintaining the flavor of the contents and ensuring safety and durability 


Understanding the numbers and symbols on PET bottles is crucial for making informed choices about plastic use and recycling. Each code provides valuable information about the plastic's safety and recyclability, helping consumers contribute to a more sustainable future. At Wankai, we believe in the power of recycling and are dedicated to offering products that support a healthier planet. Join us in our mission to make a positive impact on the environment through responsible plastic use and recycling.

For more information on our sustainable PET solutions, visit Wankai. Together, we can make a difference.

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