Lifestyle

Recycling plastics? Think shape, not number

There is high demand for flexible plastic bottles because they can be recycled into different materials, such as carpet, fleece and other bottles. - Courtesy photo
There is high demand for flexible plastic bottles because they can be recycled into different materials, such as carpet, fleece and other bottles.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Can you tell which plastics go into your recycling cart? Many plastic products have a “chasing arrows” symbol with a code or number. But that doesn’t always mean it can be recycled.

There’s an easier way to know whether your plastic container is recyclable: ignore the numbers and check the shape. In Federal Way, only bottles, jugs, tubs and cups can be recycled at the curb.

Why use shape as a guide? The number and “chasing arrows” on a plastic container only tell the type of plastic resin used to make the item. It does not guarantee the item can be recycled.

Remember, if no one wants the material, then it cannot be “recycled” into something else. For example, a bottle and a tray may start from the same resin, but they are made differently. Plastic bottles become flexible during manufacturing, whereas deli trays become stiff and brittle. There is high demand for flexible plastic bottles because they can be recycled into different materials, such as carpet, fleece and other bottles.

Unfortunately, that is not the case for the plastic deli trays. Bottom line: the plastic deli tray is a contaminant when recycling bottles. Please keep those deli trays out of your recycling cart.

So forget the number — check the shape instead!

Now that you know the trick for recycling plastics, you are ready to enter this year’s Recycle Palooza contest. You could win up to $1,000 just for recycling right. Sign up by Sept. 30 for your chance to win. It’s easy to do online: www.cityoffederalway.com/recyclepalooza.

Free recycling for range of materials

A free recycling event runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Twin Lakes park and ride (21st Avenue SW and SW 344th St.). Residents can drop off a range of materials not typically collected at the curb such as appliances, stumps, lumber, mattresses, batteries, tires, electronics and fluorescent tubes. Visit www.cityoffederalway.com/recycling or call (253) 835-2771.

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Jeanette Brizendine is the Solid Waste and Recycling Project Manager for the City of Federal Way. She can be reached at (253) 835-2771 or recycle@cityoffederalway.com, or visit www.cityoffederalway.com/recycling

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