American consumers spend billions of dollars each year on products that come in plastic bottles and other commercial packaging. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City has implemented one of the most proactive consumer recycling programs in the United States. Recycling programs like Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative prevent plastic bottles and packaging materials from entering the waste stream.
1. Know Your Plastic
There are seven kinds of recyclable plastic. Each is represented by a number between one and six within a circular arrow recycling symbol. The New York City program, however, accepts only certain types of plastic. New Yorkers need to know which items to recycle, throw away or reuse. Find the recycling symbol on each container. Usually the symbol will appear on the base of the item.
2. Wash and Separate No. “1” and No. “2” Items
Wash plastic containers in hot soapy water to remove food particles. Rinse and let dry. Separate containers by number and discard bottle caps, which are not accepted by the New York City recycling program. Place the containers marked with numbers one and two, along with any other narrow-necked bottles, in a blue plastic bag designated for recycling. Most water and beverage bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and are marked with the number one. Milk, juice, water and laundry detergent bottles are usually made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) and are marked with number two. Place the bag on the curb for weekly pickup, according to your street’s schedule.
3. Take No. “5” Items to a Recycling Location
Select any containers marked with the number five. Yogurt cups, margarine tubs and other plastic food containers are usually made of polypropylene (PP) and marked with the number five. Take these plastics to a site that accepts them for recycling, such as any Whole Foods Market in Manhattan. These stores participate in the “Preserve Gimme 5″ program and provide a receptacle for consumers to drop in their clean No. “5” plastics for collection.
4. Reuse or Discard the Other Numbers
Reuse or discard the plastics marked “3” (polyvinyl chloride or PVC), “6” (polystyrene or PS) and “7,” which are mixed plastics.
5. Recycle Plastic Bags
New York City also encourages plastic bag recycling. Clean plastic grocery and dry cleaning bags, made of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and marked with the number four, can be taken to just about any supermarket or pharmacy and placed in the designated container for recycling.