Hello, EcoDesi here.

Ok so the past week was a busy one. Not really but I like to say that so people think I have friends.

Anyway what I have been researching in between work assignment is what the recycling symbols with the numbers mean. Everyone should know what the recycle symbol looks like. However, on recyclable plastic items symbols have numbers within the loop ranging from 1 to 7. And I was always unsure as to what they meant. My sister in law who is a chemical engineer told me once that plastic products/packaging that has certain codes could be recycled and others couldn’t be. I was blown away by this but when I asked her to clarify what that meant she changed the subject. Typical SIL behavior, change the subject when you don’t know the answer. But it still left me curious so here is what my research turned up.

First of all a bit of background, the codes are called the resin identification codes. They are used by manufacturers to indicate the type of polymer that plastics are made with. They are put on products to separate the plastic properly when they are sent for recycling. Here are the types of plastic out there and a few of the products made by each:

So the next question is what can and cannot be recycled? Well that depends on each municipality. Based on York region’s waste disposal website all plastics numbered 1 to 7 are recyclable and can go in the blue bin. However saran wrap and plastic bags are not accepted. The reason being Plastic bags and film can get caught in the Region’s automated sorting equipment, resulting in the facility shutting down or the possible risk of fire. (taken from

I contacted Peel Region waste disposal to see if the same applies to them and got a quick and prompt reply from supervisor D. Trevor Barton who said “Regardless of where you live in the province, no municipality takes thermal shrink wrap (Saran Wrap) dispose of that material in the garbage. The Region of Peel accepts plastic shopping bags, grocery bags, plastic film from pop and water bottles and overwrap from toilet tissue/paper towels etc. PLACE ALL THIS MATERIAL IN ONE TIED BAG AND PLACE IN THE BLUE BOX -do not set it loose.”

He also suggested using the search engine found at the website which I noticed is present at all waste disposal websites. In this search engine you type in the type of product you want to dispose and it will tell you whether to put it in the blue box, garbage or the waste disposal depots that are found all over the Ontario.

What can and cannot go in the blue box Waste disposal search engine
York Region York Region Blue box
Toronto City of Toronto Blue Box
Peel Region Peel Region Blue box

So I hope my research was useful. I tried to make is as simple as possible because sometimes it gets overwhelming and god knows we have enough things to worry about. But at least this way we can make a note of what kind of products we usually buy and keep in the back of our mind what goes where when we dispose of it. I have noticed that when items are sorted correctly, the quantity of overall garbage reduces significantly and that always gives me a warm feeling as if I just saved the whole world by myself. I know, I’m an optimist. But let me tell you, it’s better than being a cynic and doing nothing.

Anyway until next time. Take care people.

About the Author:

Zehra (EcoDesi) is a programmer by profession, environmentalist by nature.  She believes that no effort is too small and everyone should think of this earth as a gift as opposed to a right.  The EcoDesi mantra is that when we take into account the monetary cost of buying something then let us also look at the environmental cost.

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