The ‘recycling triangle’ is a Plastics Identification Code (PIC) and it lets you know the type of plastic used to make a product. Most objects that are marked with a PIC can technically be recycled, just not always in your kerbside recycling bin.What does that plastics triangle mean?

Polystyrene, or Styrofoam, is often marked with a PIC and the number 6, but polystyrene can never be recycled in the kerbside recycling bin.

This is because the recycling truck can crush the polystyrene into tiny pieces. These pieces are practically impossible to sort at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) and so they end up contaminating good recyclable materials like glass, paper and cardboard.

Generally any soft plastic that you can ‘scrunch’ can’t be recycled in your kerbside bin, regardless of the PIC symbol. Instead, take soft plastics such as bread bags, freezer bags and biscuit packets to a soft plastic collection point, like the bins found in most major supermarkets.

Here’s a quick guide to common soft plastics that can not go in your kerbside recycling bin even if they feature a PIC symbol:

  • Plastic bags (all types and thicknesses, including those marked as biodegradable)
  • Chip packets (including the foil plastic varieties)
  • Biscuit packets
  • Cereal bags
  • Plastic bread bags
  • Foam trays, such as meat trays
  • Cling wrap
  • Plastic zip-lock bags
  • Bubble wrap
  • Polystyrene.

Pssst…. If you’re technically minded, here are the PICs and the plastic types that they represent:

1 = PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)
2 = HDPE (High-density polyethylene)
3 = PVC (Polyvinyl chloride or plasticised polyvinyl chloride)
4 = LDPE (Low density polyethylene)
5 = PP (Polypropylene)
6 = PS (Polystyrene)
7 = Other – all other plastics,including acrylic and nylon.

Thanks for rethinking waste and being a good SORT!