What Types of Plastics Can You Recycle and How?

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Plastic is significant in the modern economy due to its diverse applications. In recent years, substantial investments have been made across various levels to enhance recycling efforts and prolong its usefulness. However, if you are looking for a “bottle depot near me,” it will be challenging to find which plastics are recyclable and which are not because different types of plastic require distinct recycling methods. This blog post aims to explore recyclable plastics and provide guidance on how to recycle them effectively.

Which Plastics Are Recyclable?

Plastic materials play a pivotal role in today’s economy. Here, we delve into the recyclable plastics accepted by various bottle depots.

  1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET):

PET, the most widely recycled plastic at bottle return in Calgary or globally, is relatively easy to recycle. However, some countries need help to achieve high recycling rates. Surprisingly, a significant portion of PET, mainly from plastic bottles, is transformed into fashion items like polar fleece clothes, backpacks, and carpets. The recycling process involves turning PET into flakes, which are then spun into yarn for making clothes and textiles. Additionally, PET bottles can be recycled into new PET bottles, maintaining their form. An innovative application involves using PET bottles filled with sand as construction materials in third-world countries, creating walls by stacking and cementing the bottles together.

  1. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): Rigid and Protective

PVC is known for its rigidity and finds its main application in packaging, ensuring the protection of materials. However, it contains a toxic substance called nonylphenol, raising environmental concerns. Regrettably, a bottle depot near you does not accept the plastic type number 3 (Poly Vinyl Chloride) through regular collection methods.

  1. High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE): Moisture-Resistant and Sturdy

HDPE is one of the most accessible plastic polymers to recycle and is accepted at most recycling bottle depots globally. HDPE can be transparent or coloured and is recycled into non-food application bottles, film packaging, and other durable products like plastic lumber, tables, and benches.

  1. Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE): Flexible and Heat-Resistant

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE), or plastic type #4, is used for plastic bags. While technically recyclable, LDPE poses challenges due to tangling in recycling machinery and its low quality. Many depots of bottle returns in Calgary or other regions don’t accept plastic no. 4 in curbside recycling bins. When recycled, LDPE can be turned into bin liners and packaging films. LDPE’s flexibility and heat resistance make it indispensable for producing food industry bags. However, it contains toxic substances, posing safe disposal and recycling challenges.

  1. Polypropylene (PP): Flexible and Durable

Polypropylene (PP) is famous for packaging but has low recycling rates. PP takes 20-30 years to decompose in landfills. Recycling PP is challenging and expensive, often resulting in dark-coloured material unsuitable for packaging. PP combines flexibility with toughness, making it ideal for producing disposable items and kitchen utensils. Recycled PP is commonly used in industrial applications like plastic lumber, park benches, and auto parts. Its versatility lends itself to various applications in daily life.

  1. Polystyrene (PS): Highly Moldable and Versatile

Apart from these recyclable plastic categories, a group is labelled Class O. This group includes plastics like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polycarbonates, which unfortunately cannot be recycled. However, PS’s high moldability makes it valuable in producing packaging foam and specialized industries like electronics. Its adaptability caters to intricate manufacturing needs, but Plastics number 6 (PS) and 7 (Other) are typically not recycled.


Although recycling rates have risen in recent years worldwide, plastic recycling at bottle depots has yet to achieve the same levels as materials like aluminum and glass. Nevertheless, with collective efforts, recycling can become the preferred solution for plastic disposal.

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