Can You Recycle Number 5 Plastics? (Don’t Make These Mistakes)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

Recycling is a topic of conversation that has become more prevalent over the years. Furthermore, more and more products are made from recycled materials every day. Now, more than ever, it is vital that we recycle so plastic can be reused and kept out of landfills. 

However, what about Number 5 plastics? Can Number 5 plastics be recycled? Continue reading to find out this answer and more!

Can You Recycle Number 5 Plastics?

Number 5 plastics, or polypropylene, can be recycled and made into various items, including bottle caps, carpets, and car battery casings. They can even be reused for different purposes. Furthermore, by recycling and reusing these plastics we are stopping them from disrupting our ecosystem and ending up in landfills.

Polypropylene is one of the most versatile plastics in the world. Due to this, it is used in a variety of products, including food storage containers and prescription pill bottles. Keep on reading to learn about number five plastics in detail and how they can be recycled or reused!

Can Number 5 Plastics Be Recycled?

Simply put, Number 5 plastics can and should be recycled. 

However, only about 3% of polypropylene products are recycled; this is primarily due to the cost of the recycling process and the effort of removing the smell from the plastic’s original use. 

So, now that you know Number 5 plastics can and should be recycled, you might be wondering what items specifically are composed of this plastic? Continue reading or the answer!

What Items Are Made From #5 Plastics?

Polypropylene, or PP, is what is commonly referred to as Number 5 plastic. 

The plastic is a thermoplastic polymer, meaning it will soften when heated and harden upon cooling.

Therefore, it is an ideal plastic for food storage, however, you can also find PP in:

  • Reusable water bottles
  • Toys
  • Car components
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Medical tools, equipment, and containers
  • Shampoo bottles
  • Yogurt containers

How do you recycle Number 5 plastics then? Read on to find out!

How To Recycle Number 5 Plastics

Recycling Number 5 plastics is quite simple. Furthermore, many cities and towns now allow you to drop your Number 5 plastics in your recycling bin to be picked up every week.

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However, if this isn’t an option where you live, here are some alternatives to make sure those plastics are recycled properly:

Gimme 5

If your area doesn’t take your Number 5 plastic off your hands, Gimme Five can help. 

Furthermore, gimme Five is a program offered by Preserve that allows you to ship your number 5 plastics to be recycled. The items they accept include:

  • Plastic caps
  • Takeout containers
  • Prescription Bottles
  • Any clean, rigid #5 container 

Local Recycling Centers

You can also take your #5 plastics to your local recycling center to ensure that they can be disposed of appropriately. 

Additionally, here are a few ways to find your nearest one:

  • By simply Googling “plastic recycling near me,” you will find a list of recycling centers and what items they can recycle for you. 
  • Recycling Center Near Me is a great website to help you find your local recyclers.
  • Ask around and don’t feel like it is a silly question. Many grocery stores will know where you can recycle, especially if your state charges a bottle deposit. 

TerraCycle

TerraCycle is a company founded on the idea that you can recycle everything. 

Therefore, they will accept numerous items to recycle or reuse. 

Additionally, they have partnered with several big companies to assist in the effort.

  • They offer programs for all types of items, including plenty of number 5 plastics. 
  • You can also purchase Zero Waste Boxes to help you organize your recyclables.
  • TerraCycle also has a points program. You earn a point for the items you send them to recycle; all points can be redeemed to donate to the organization of your choice.

Furthermore, reusing or upcycling your plastics is a fast-growing trend to reduce the amount of items going into landfills.

If you are looking for ways to upcycle or reuse your Number 5 plastics, keep on reading!

How To Reuse And Upcycle Number 5 Plastics

How To Reuse And Upcycle Number 5 Plastics

Are you looking for an even better way to help the environment? Consider reusing or upcycling your plastics. 

While recycling is better than trashing your plastic, reusing them for another purpose is ideal. 

Furthermore, here are some ideas for your plastics:

Prescription Pill Bottles

Most people have these in their homes; give them a second life with these ideas!

  • Perfect for storage of small and sharp objects (e.g., screws, tacks, nails)
  • Waterproof container for cash, cotton balls, Q-tips, etc.
  • Portion out lotions, shampoos, creams, and conditioners for travel
  • Keeping jewelry separated
  • Mini first aid kit for your purse or backpack
  • Loose change
  • Keeping matches dry
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Shampoo Bottles

Once you have gotten that last bit of shampoo out of the bottle, give it a rinse and create something new:

  • Bathroom storage container
  • Have your kids make a project/toy
  • Large enough bottles could be used as a mailbox
  • Cell phone wall holder
  • Pen and pencil holder
  • Flower vase

Reusable Water Bottles

We all end up buying more reusable bottles than we need, but don’t trash the extras; use them around the house:

  • Dry food storage (e.g., pasta, flour, sugar)
  • Water your plants
  • Fill with water and use as an ice pack
  • Make a lantern by adding an LED light cap

Is #5 Plastic Biodegradable?

The term biodegradable is often misunderstood, therefore, just because plastic will eventually break down doesn’t mean that it is technically biodegradable. 

For it to be biodegradable, it needs to decay naturally and not be harmful to the environment in the process. 

Furthermore, number 5 plastics will eventually biodegrade, but this can take nearly 1000 years to happen, meaning it doesn’t necessarily qualify as biodegradable. 

With Number 5 plastics taking centuries to biodegrade, does that mean it is bad for the environment?

Is Number 5 Plastic Bad For The Environment?

When it comes down to it, you should recycle and reuse anything you can as these options are much better for the environment than just sending them to landfills. 

Additionally, not recycling these Number 5 plastics—and any other recyclable plastic at that—can make a negative impact on our environment in the following ways: 

Oceans

The ocean is already affected by human waste; not recycling number 5 plastics only makes matters worse: 

  • 10% of all plastic ends up in the oceans.
  • Plastics form huge patches that float around the oceans. There is currently a patch the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean!
  • The plastics that sink harm the wildlife. The plastics are mistaken for food and can kill the animals trying to eat them.
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Landfills 

Landfills all over the world are already overflowing and not recycling only makes them fill up faster.

  • Plastic could end up sitting in a landfill under trash instead of being reused and depending on the type of plastic, it could take 10-1000 years for the material to fully break down.
  • Toxic chemicals can be released into the ground once the plastic begins to break down.

Health

There are more health effects when you don’t recycle than people realize: 

  • When plastics are incinerated, they release toxic chemicals into the air. Burning PVC, in particular, can release chemicals that can lead to cancer, birth defects, asthma, and organ damage.
  • Microplastics are found in 25% of the seafood caught in the US.
  • An EPA report found BPA in 90% of urine samples during a study.

Finance

There are also financial implications to not recycling: 

  • The recycling industry employs hundreds of thousands of people who would be otherwise unemployed.
  • Recycling can save money for manufacturers. Recycled materials can cost less than raw materials required to produce their products.
  • It can cost upwards of $90,000 just to clean one beach of trash, depending on size and location.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle candle jars and containers, whether you can recycle lotion bottles, tubes, and pumps, and whether you can recycle latex gloves.

Conclusion

Recycling should be a big part of everyone’s lives, from paper to number 5 plastics. Therefore, if you can’t recycle it, you always have the option to reuse or upcycle the material to avoid it from ending up in landfills. 

After all, this planet will only be inhabitable for as long as we take care of it. So, we should do our best to properly dispose of these toxic materials in order to preserve our natural resources for as long as possible.

Author

  • Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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