Is Plastic #81 Recyclable? A Detailed Guide

Plastic recycling can be confusing with all the different resin identification codes. If you’ve seen the #81 symbol on a plastic item and wondered if it can be recycled, you’re not alone.

The quick answer is: Sometimes. Plastic #81 refers to a broad category of plastics made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) mixed with other materials. The recyclability depends on the exact composition.

What Does Plastic #81 Mean?

Plastic #81 refers to a specific resin identification code that is used to classify certain types of plastics. Resin identification codes are symbols that are typically found on the bottom of plastic products, indicating the type of plastic resin used in their production. These codes help consumers and recycling facilities identify and sort different types of plastics for recycling purposes.

Resin Identification Codes

Resin identification codes are a system of numbers and symbols developed by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) to identify the different types of plastics used in products. These codes range from #1 to #7, with each number representing a specific type of plastic resin. Plastic #81 falls under the category of #1, which represents Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET).

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is a commonly used plastic resin that is known for its versatility and durability. It is commonly used in the production of beverage bottles, food containers, and other household items. PET is highly recyclable and can be found in a wide range of products.

One of the main advantages of PET is that it can be recycled into new products multiple times without losing its quality. This makes it an environmentally friendly choice compared to other types of plastics. When recycled, PET can be turned into new bottles, fibers for clothing, and even carpeting.

PET Mixed With Other Plastics

Sometimes, PET may be mixed with other types of plastics in certain products. This is done to improve the strength or functionality of the plastic. When PET is mixed with other plastics, it can affect its recyclability.

It is important to note that not all recycling facilities are equipped to handle mixed plastics. Therefore, it is essential to check with your local recycling facility or municipality to determine if they accept plastic #81 or PET mixed with other plastics for recycling. They can provide guidance on how to properly dispose of these items if they are not recyclable in your area.

Remember, proper recycling practices can help reduce waste and protect our environment. By understanding the meaning of plastic #81 and knowing how to recycle it correctly, we can all contribute to a more sustainable future.

Is Plastic #81 Recyclable?

Plastic #81, also known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is a commonly used plastic in various industries. However, when it comes to recycling, the answer is not as straightforward. The recyclability of plastic #81 depends on several factors.

Depends on the Mix

Whether or not plastic #81 is recyclable depends on the specific mix of materials used in its composition. PVC, by itself, is not easily recyclable due to its chemical structure and potential for releasing toxic fumes when melted. However, when PVC is combined with other materials, such as additives or modifiers, it can create a different type of plastic that may be recyclable.

For example, PVC pipes often contain a mix of PVC and additives like stabilizers and plasticizers. In some cases, these pipes can be recycled through specialized programs that accept mixed plastics. However, it’s important to note that not all recycling facilities are equipped to handle this type of plastic mix, so it’s best to check with your local recycling program.

Check With Your Local Program

When it comes to recycling plastic #81, it’s crucial to check with your local recycling program for specific guidelines. Recycling capabilities can vary from one area to another, so what may be recyclable in one location may not be in another.

You can start by visiting your city or town’s official website, where you’ll likely find information on recycling programs and guidelines. Look for details on which types of plastics are accepted and whether or not plastic #81 is included. If you can’t find the information online, reach out to your local waste management department or recycling center for clarification.

Additionally, some recycling facilities have advanced technologies that can handle more complex plastics, including certain types of PVC. These facilities may be able to process plastic #81 and turn it into new products, reducing the environmental impact of this plastic.

Remember, when it comes to recycling plastic #81, it’s always best to follow the guidelines provided by your local recycling program. This ensures that the plastic is properly sorted, processed, and recycled in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

How to Identify Plastic #81 Items

Identifying plastic #81 items can be a bit confusing, as this particular plastic is not as commonly used as some of the other types. However, with a little knowledge and some careful examination, you can easily determine if an item is made from plastic #81.

Check for the Resin Identification Code

The first step in identifying plastic #81 items is to check for the Resin Identification Code (RIC). This code is usually represented by a number inside a recycling symbol. Plastic #81 is commonly marked with the number “81” or sometimes “PBT” (short for polybutylene terephthalate). Look for this code on the bottom or side of the item.

Examine the Physical Properties

Another way to identify plastic #81 items is to examine their physical properties. Plastic #81 is a thermoplastic polymer that is known for its high strength, durability, and resistance to heat and chemicals. It is often used in applications where these properties are required, such as automotive parts, electrical connectors, and medical devices.

Compare with Other Plastics

If you are unsure whether an item is made from plastic #81, you can compare it with other commonly used plastics. Plastic #81 is similar in appearance to other clear or translucent plastics, such as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride). However, it has distinct properties that set it apart.

Plastic Type Identification Features
PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) Clear, rigid, commonly used for water bottles
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Flexible, commonly used for pipes and vinyl records
Plastic #81 (Polybutylene Terephthalate) Clear or translucent, high strength, heat and chemical resistant

Consult a Professional

If you are still unsure about the plastic type of an item, it is always a good idea to consult with a recycling professional or contact your local recycling center. They have the expertise to help you correctly identify plastic #81 items and guide you on how to properly recycle them.

Remember, proper identification of plastic #81 items is important for effective recycling. Recycling plastic #81 helps reduce the amount of plastic waste in landfills and contributes to a more sustainable future.

Disposing of Non-Recyclable #81 Plastics

Put in Trash

When it comes to plastics that are not recyclable, such as #81 plastics, the most common method of disposal is to put them in the trash. These plastics cannot be processed by recycling facilities due to their composition or lack of demand in the market. It is important to note, however, that not all plastics are suitable for regular trash cans. Some local municipalities have specific guidelines for disposing of non-recyclable plastics, so it is always a good idea to check with your local waste management agency for proper disposal methods.

Find Special Recycling Programs

In some cases, there may be special recycling programs available for certain types of non-recyclable plastics, including #81 plastics. These programs are designed to divert materials from the landfill and find alternative uses for them. One example is TerraCycle, a company that partners with various brands and retailers to offer recycling programs for hard-to-recycle materials. They have programs for a wide range of products, including plastics that are not accepted in regular recycling streams. You can visit their website at to see if they have a program for #81 plastics or to explore other recycling options.

Remember, proper disposal of non-recyclable plastics is crucial to minimize environmental impact. By following the appropriate disposal methods, we can all contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future.

The Future of Plastic #81 Recycling

Plastic #81, also known as Polyethylene Terephthalate or PET, is one of the most commonly used plastics in the world. It is widely used in the production of bottles, containers, and packaging materials. However, the question arises: is Plastic #81 recyclable?

Recycling Plastic #81

The good news is that Plastic #81 is indeed recyclable. In fact, it is one of the most recycled plastics globally. Recycling Plastic #81 helps reduce the demand for virgin plastic production and minimizes the environmental impact associated with plastic waste.

When Plastic #81 is recycled, it goes through a process called mechanical recycling. This involves sorting, cleaning, and shredding the plastic into small flakes. These flakes are then melted and transformed into new products, such as polyester fibers for clothing or new plastic bottles.

The Challenges and Innovations

While Plastic #81 recycling is widely practiced, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed for a more sustainable future. One of the main challenges is the collection and sorting of plastic waste. Improving recycling infrastructure and educating the public about proper recycling practices can help overcome this hurdle.

Another challenge is the presence of contaminants in plastic waste, such as food residues or other types of plastics. Contaminants can affect the quality of the recycled plastic and make it less suitable for certain applications. Research and technological advancements are continuously being made to develop more efficient sorting and cleaning processes.

Furthermore, innovations in chemical recycling are also being explored. Chemical recycling involves breaking down plastic polymers into their original monomers or other chemical compounds, which can then be used for various purposes. This technology shows great potential in increasing the recyclability of plastics like Plastic #81.

The Importance of Recycling Plastic #81

Recycling Plastic #81 is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it conserves natural resources by reducing the need for new plastic production. This helps protect our environment and preserve valuable raw materials. Secondly, it reduces the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills or oceans, preventing pollution and harm to wildlife.

Moreover, recycling Plastic #81 contributes to the circular economy, where materials are continuously reused and recycled rather than discarded after a single use. This promotes sustainability and reduces the carbon footprint associated with plastic production.


To summarize, the recyclability of plastic #81 depends on the exact materials used in the plastic. Some mixtures are recyclable in standard programs, while others need special handling. When in doubt, check with your local recycling provider to see if they accept plastic #81 items. With more education and advances in processing, even more of these plastics may be recyclable in the future.

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