Here Come the Facts

  • In California, about 24.5 billion California Refund Value (CRV) eligible containers were sold in 2018.
  • Of those, more than 18.5 billion were recycled!
  • Since 6 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.SymbolAbbreviationPolymer NameUses Once Recycled
1#1 Plastic Recycling SymbolPETE or PETPolyethylene terephthalatePolyester fibers, thermoformed sheet, strapping, and soft drink bottles.
2#2 Plastic Recycling SymbolHDPEHigh density polyethyleneBottles, grocery bags, recycling bins, agricultural pipe, base cups, car stops, playground equipment, and plastic lumber.
3#3 Plastic Recycling SymbolPVC or VPolyvinyl chloridePipe, fencing, and non-food bottles.
4#4 Plastic Recycling SymbolLDPELow density polyethylenePlastic bags, 6 pack rings, various containers, dispensing bottles, wash bottles, tubing, and various molded laboratory equipment.
5#5 Plastic Recycling SymbolPPPolypropyleneAuto parts, industrial fibers, food containers, and dishware.
6#5 Plastic Recycling SymbolPSPolystyreneDesk accessories, cafeteria trays, toys, video cassettes and cases, and insulation board and other expanded polystyrene products (e.g., Styrofoam).
7#7 Plastic Recycling SymbolOther

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