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What’s really the deal with those numbers on the back of your plastic waste?

We’ve all flipped our packaging over and examined those wee little numbers and their wee little symbols. Now, we at Kerby have been told all kinds of things about what they mean, but the most common are:

  1. They tell you how many times the item can be recycled

  2. They’re about how “toxic” or dangerous the plastic is

  3. They definitively tell you whether the item can be recycled (pop in for coffee one day and we can have that loooong conversation)

  4. They’re there because the people who write words on the back of packaging can get really, really lonely and would love it if you just read something they did – would that really be too much to ask?

The truth? None of the above. In fact, they’re technically not even there for you.

You see, those numbers are how recyclers identify the exact type of plastic the packaging is made from to ensure they put only the same types of plastics together.

Paper and metal have numbers too. In fact, almost every type of material has a number.

To find out what type of plastic each number represent (and what it can be recycled into), check out:

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