California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Beverage Container Recycling: It's in Your Hands

Just the Facts

Here Come the Facts

  • In California, nearly 22 billion California Refund Value (CRV)-eligible containers were sold in 2009.
  • Of those, more than 17 billion were recycled!
  • And the nearly 4 billion that ended up in landfills? You could use them to fill every lane of the entire 770-mile length of Interstate 5...almost a foot deep.
  • Since more than 4 billion bottles and cans ended up in the landfill, nobody claimed the CRV on them. How much CRV? More than $100 million worth!
  • CRV is 5 for bottles and cans less than 24 ounces, and 10 for larger ones.
  • CRV refunds are available to anyone--consumers, companies, or nonprofits--who returns bottles and cans to a recycling center.
  • By eliminating the need to manufacture new products from raw materials, recycling reduces energy use, in turn reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in the air.
  • For every 10 pounds of aluminum you recycle, you eliminate 37 pounds of carbon emissions from the air.
  • For every 10 pounds of clear plastic water or soda bottles, 3.3 pounds of carbon emissions disappear.
  • And although glass bottles are a lot heavier, each 10 pounds recycled still reduces carbon by nearly a pound.
  • In a landfill, aluminum cans take 80-100 years to break down.
  • Plastic bottles hang around as long as 700 years.
  • Glass bottles spend 1 million years waiting around to decompose.

What Those Little Numbers Mean

While most plastic can be recycled, all plastic must be separated by type of polymer. Fortunately, recycling centers do this for you, so you don’t have to worry about it. But with this chart, it’s easy to imagine what the bottle or can you’re about to recycle will soon become.

Recycling No. Symbol Abbreviation Polymer Name Uses Once Recycled
1 #1 Plastic Recycling Symbol PETE or PET Polyethylene terephthalate Polyester fibers, thermoformed sheet, strapping, and soft drink bottles.
2 #2 Plastic Recycling Symbol HDPE High density polyethylene Bottles, grocery bags, recycling bins, agricultural pipe, base cups, car stops, playground equipment, and plastic lumber.
3 #3 Plastic Recycling Symbol PVC or V Polyvinyl chloride Pipe, fencing, and non-food bottles.
4 #4 Plastic Recycling Symbol LDPE Low density polyethylene Plastic bags, 6 pack rings, various containers, dispensing bottles, wash bottles, tubing, and various molded laboratory equipment.
5 #5 Plastic Recycling Symbol PP Polypropylene Auto parts, industrial fibers, food containers, and dishware.
6 #5 Plastic Recycling Symbol PS Polystyrene Desk accessories, cafeteria trays, toys, video cassettes and cases, and insulation board and other expanded polystyrene products (e.g., Styrofoam).
7 #7 Plastic Recycling Symbol Other

Other plastics, including acrylic, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, fiberglass, nylon, polycarbonate, and polylactic acid.

 
Last updated: January 24, 2011
Beverage Container Recycling, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/BevContainer/Consumers/
Contacts: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/BevContainer/Contacts.htm