Plastics Recycling Explained
Hard plastics #1 through #7, and now most plastic bags, can be recycled in your commingled recycling container at your home, business, apartment or school.
Read details about the different plastic types below.
No matter what the recycling number is (e.g. #1 through #7), most plastics start out as a petroleum product like oil or natural gas. The only exception is Compostable Plastics, which are not recyclable in your blue bin. All numbered hard plastics, and many similar plastics without numbers, are recyclable.
What do those numbers mean?
Let's get technical. The numbers identify the polymer structure of the plastic. You can think of them as being different types, and they are made and get recycled using different techniques:
#1 - PET or PETE
#2 - HDPE
#3 - PVC
#4 - LDPE
- Full Name: Low Density Polyethylene
- Flexible, not crinkly
- Many plastic bags are #4 and they are now recyclable in your blue bin. Read how to properly recycle plastic bags.
- Squeezable bottles such as honey or mustard containers
#5 - PP
#6 - PS
#7 - Other
How clean should my plastic containers be?
Fairly clean is good; free of residue is best. This is primarily to protect paper in your recycling bin from being contaminated. However, it is important for the plastic as well.
Do I need to remove the caps?
Don't worry about it. Even though plastic containers often have plastic tops that have different colors or may be of a different plastic type, they can be recycled together.
What about plastic bags?
What about compostable or biodegradable plastic?
Compostable plastic is not recyclable. It is designed to be composted at commercial composting facilities. If this type of plastic gets thrown in the recycling, it can compromise the ability of the other plastics to get recycled. In most areas of the county, compostable plastic is considered plastic trash.
How do I get the CRV?
The California Redemption Value is available for beverage containers. Some of the sites below are buyback centers, but not all of them. Check out our CRV page for details, but if you see "California Redemption Value" on a location listed below, it should be a buyback center. Redeem away!
Where to go
All of Santa Barbara County (2)
Santa Barbara Area (3)
Goleta & UCSB Area (2)
Santa Ynez Valley (1)
- *Santa Ynez Valley Recycling and Transfer Station — 4004 Foxen Canyon Road
Lompoc Valley & VAFB (3)
Santa Maria Valley (2)
Cuyama Valley (1)
- *New Cuyama Transfer Station — 5073 Highway 166
Outside Santa Barbara County (3)
- Agricultural Plastic Recycling
- California Refund Value (CRV) Beverage Container Recycling
- Container and Wrapper Recycling
- Plastic Bags Recycling
- Plastic Trash
- Plastics #1 and #2 Recycling
- Plastics #3 - #7 Recycling (no Styrofoam)
- Plastics Recycling
- Recycling FAQs
- Why Recycle?
January 28, 2015 by Sam Dickinson - Electronics
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September 19, 2013 by Sam Dickinson - Trash
February 02, 2012 by Leslie Robinson - Recycle
October 06, 2011 by Jeff Simeon - Policies
June 13, 2011 by Jeff Simeon - Electronics
April 09, 2011 by Jeff Simeon - Recycle