Skip to content
Home > Recycle > Plastics Recycling
Plastic Picture By allybeag on Flickr original at

Plastics Recycling Explained

Hard plastics #1 and #2, and some #5, 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, with the exception of Compostable Plastics.

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:

Check out our Plastics #1 & #2 page and Plastics #3 — #7 page for more information.

How clean should my plastic #1 & #2 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?

Plastic bags are not recyclable in your blue bin. Instead, please return all clean plastic bags to your grocery store.

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

Related Materials

Related Articles