If Recycled: Your soda bottle will not be reincarnated as another soda bottle, it will most likely be made into things like carpet, plastic bags, or if it’s especially good in this life, fleece.
If Trashed: PET doesn’t biodegrade. It will remain in that landfill forever. PET will “photodegrade,” meaning it can break down in sunlight. So the bottles that make it to ocean will eventually turn into toxic chemicals in approximately 1 year.
About: A higher density version of PET made from everyone’s favorite energy source: petroleum.
If Recycled: Clear HDPE can be recycled back into the same materials. Colored HDPE is recycled into Plastic Lumber.
If Trashed: HDPE is actually one of the materials used to line landfills, so you can be pretty certain that your bottle of Tide will be around a few million years longer than your laundry.
If Recycled: Can also be made into Plastic Lumber.
If Trashed: This is the most common fate of PVC because it’s not generally accepted by curbside programs. Their reason being that these items aren’t disposed on a regular basis.
If Recycled: Can be turned into new bags or plastic lumber.
If Trashed: A likely destiny because LDPE is not accepted by most curbside recycling programs due to its low-density, light weight nature. (More energy is put into trucking and sorting than can be recouped from recycling.)
However grocery stores and drug stores sometimes have LDPE recycling programs. Look for bins near entrances.
If Recycled: #5 plastics are technically recyclable. The reason they aren’t generally accepted is because they can’t be recycled with other plastics and thus require sorting, which is difficult and expensive.
If Trashed: This is the sad, but common fate of #5s.
If Recycled: There is hope for PS, it can be recycled into things like insulation, egg cartons and even back into foam packaging. Rumor has it, infrared technology may make sorting #6 plastic a viable option.
If Trashed: We all know that Styrofoam and hard plastics don’t biodegrade, and #6s don’t even photodegrade, which is good because the byproducts would be highly toxic. Basically, every plastic utensil and Styrofoam coffee cup you’ve ever used has taken up permanent residency on this planet.
This category includes everything from compostable plastics made from plants to polycarbonate–a super hard, super durable plastic used in everything from DVDs to water cooler jugs.