How to Recycle HDPE Plastic


HDPE, or high density polyethylene, is a plastic widely used in manufacturing products for home, business and industrial use. From plastic bottles and food containers to natural gas pipeline and plastic lumber and furniture, HDPE is made into many products. Many municipalities encourage recycling HDPE plastic products to reduce the amount of material entering landfills and also to help conserve natural resources such as petroleum used to manufacture the material.

Things You'll Need

  • HDPE products
  • Running water
  • Recycling container
  • Recycling collection site
  • Collect empty plastic packaging for items including milk, juice, detergent, yogurt, margarine, cosmetics and shampoo. These items are typically packaged in HDPE plastic.

  • Look for the triangle shaped recycle logo on each item. If a No. 2 is inside the triangle, the plastic item is indeed an HDPE product.

  • Remove any caps and labels on the product and discard them in an appropriate location such as a trash can. Caps are often made from non-recyclable material.

  • Rinse the HDPE plastic item thoroughly under running water to wash away any remaining liquid or food. Turn the item upside down so that any debris and water can drain thoroughly. Set the HDPE plastic item aside to dry.

  • Place the HDPE plastic item in an approved recycling container. Collect recycle items and place on the curb for pickup at the appropriate time.

  • Collect recyclable items, including HDPE, in separate bins or bags and deliver to a recycling collection center if curbside recycling is not available. Deliver the HDPE items to the recycling center and place them in the appropriate collection area for HDPE plastics.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check with your recycling center on whether you need to sort and separate your HDPE plastics from your other recyclables. According to the IDES website, "Some firms may require that the plastics be sorted by type and separated from other recyclables; some may specify that mixed plastics are acceptable if they are separated from other recyclables; while others may accept all material mixed together."

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