Is Number 8 Plastic Recyclable? A Detailed Answer

With plastics becoming ubiquitous in our daily lives, recycling has emerged as an important way to reduce waste and environmental impact. If you have some plastic items marked with the number 8 recycling symbol, you may be wondering – can these plastics be recycled?

The quick answer is: Sometimes. Number 8 plastics are not commonly recycled, but certain types like polycarbonate can be in some areas. Read on for a detailed breakdown.

What Does the Number 8 Symbol Mean?

The number 8 symbol on plastic products indicates that the item is made from a type of plastic known as “Code 8” or “Other.” This code is part of the Resin Identification Code (RIC) system, which was developed by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) to help identify different types of plastics for recycling purposes. The RIC system consists of a number inside the recycling symbol and is commonly found on the bottom or side of plastic containers.

Code 8 Plastics

Code 8 plastics are a diverse group of plastics that do not fall into the specific categories represented by numbers 1 to 7. These plastics are made from various materials and can have different melting points, chemical compositions, and recycling properties. While Code 8 plastics are technically recyclable, the availability of recycling programs for them may be limited.

Common Number 8 Plastics

Some common examples of number 8 plastics include polycarbonate (PC) and acrylic (PMMA) plastics. Polycarbonate is often used in products such as water bottles, baby bottles, and food storage containers. Acrylic plastics are commonly found in items like display cases, lenses, and light fixtures. It is important to note that not all products made from these plastics will necessarily have the number 8 symbol, as the RIC system is not always used or required.

When it comes to recycling number 8 plastics, it is recommended to check with your local recycling facility to see if they accept these types of plastics. Some recycling centers may have the capability to process Code 8 plastics, while others may not. If your local recycling center does not accept number 8 plastics, it is best to dispose of these items in the regular trash.

Remember, recycling is just one part of the waste management process. It is also important to reduce plastic consumption, reuse items whenever possible, and properly dispose of non-recyclable plastics to minimize their impact on the environment.

Are Number 8 Plastics Recyclable?

Number 8 plastics, also known as polystyrene (PS) or expanded polystyrene (EPS), are commonly used for packaging materials, disposable cups, and food containers. Many people wonder if these plastics can be recycled, and the answer is both yes and no.

Curbside Recycling

In most curbside recycling programs, number 8 plastics are not accepted. This is because they are difficult to recycle due to their low density and lightweight nature. Additionally, they can easily break apart during the recycling process, making it challenging to separate them from other materials.

However, some recycling programs have started accepting certain types of number 8 plastics, such as clean and dry foam packaging blocks. It’s best to check with your local recycling facility or waste management department to see if they accept number 8 plastics.

Drop-Off Locations

If your curbside recycling program doesn’t accept number 8 plastics, you may be able to find drop-off locations where they can be recycled. These drop-off centers are specifically designed to handle and process number 8 plastics, ensuring they are properly recycled.

When dropping off number 8 plastics at these locations, it’s important to follow any specific instructions provided. Some facilities may require the plastics to be clean, dry, and free from any labels or stickers. By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that your number 8 plastics are recycled effectively.

Special Considerations

While number 8 plastics may not be widely accepted for recycling, there are alternative ways to reduce their environmental impact. One option is to reuse them whenever possible. For example, you can repurpose foam packaging blocks for cushioning fragile items during moving or storage.

Another consideration is to reduce your use of number 8 plastics altogether. Look for alternative packaging materials, such as glass or aluminum, which have higher recycling rates and are more environmentally friendly.

Remember, recycling is just one part of the solution to reducing waste. It’s essential to prioritize the reduction and reuse of materials whenever possible. By making conscious choices and seeking out more sustainable options, we can all contribute to a greener future.

How to Recycle Number 8 Plastic

Check Locally

When it comes to recycling number 8 plastic, the first step is to check with your local recycling facility or waste management company. Recycling guidelines can vary from one area to another, so it’s essential to understand what types of plastics are accepted in your community. You can do a quick search online or give them a call to find out if they accept number 8 plastic for recycling.

Clean and Sort Properly

Before recycling number 8 plastic, it’s important to clean and sort it properly. Rinse out any food residue or contaminants from the plastic, as this can interfere with the recycling process. Make sure to remove any caps or lids, as they are often made of a different type of plastic and may not be recyclable. Sorting your plastics correctly not only helps the recycling process but also ensures that the materials can be properly processed and reused.

Other Disposal Options

If your local recycling facility does not accept number 8 plastic, there are still alternative disposal options available. Some communities have drop-off locations specifically for hard-to-recycle plastics, where you can bring your number 8 plastic for proper disposal. Additionally, some companies offer mail-in programs where you can send your number 8 plastics for recycling. These programs may have specific requirements, so be sure to check their guidelines before sending in your materials.

It’s important to note that number 8 plastic, also known as polystyrene, can be challenging to recycle due to its composition. However, advancements in recycling technology are continually being made, and some facilities are now able to process and recycle this type of plastic. Keeping yourself informed about local recycling options and following proper sorting and cleaning procedures can make a significant difference in reducing plastic waste and promoting a more sustainable future.

The Importance of Recycling Number 8 Plastic

Recycling has become an essential practice in today’s world, and it is crucial to understand the importance of recycling different types of plastic. One such type is number 8 plastic, also known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Recycling number 8 plastic is not only beneficial for the environment but also plays a significant role in reducing waste, conserving resources, and limiting pollution.

Reducing Waste

By recycling number 8 plastic, we can significantly reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Plastics take a long time to decompose, often hundreds of years, and contribute to the growing problem of landfill overcrowding. Recycling number 8 plastic ensures that it is diverted from the waste stream and given a new life, reducing the strain on landfills and promoting a more sustainable future.

Conserving Resources

Recycling number 8 plastic also helps in conserving valuable resources. The process of creating plastic involves extracting and refining petroleum, a non-renewable resource. By recycling number 8 plastic, we can reduce the demand for virgin plastic and conserve these limited resources. Additionally, recycling plastic requires less energy compared to producing new plastic, further contributing to resource conservation.

Limiting Pollution

One of the most significant benefits of recycling number 8 plastic is its positive impact on limiting pollution. Improperly disposed of plastic can end up in our oceans, rivers, and other natural habitats, causing harm to wildlife and ecosystems. By recycling number 8 plastic, we can prevent it from polluting our environment and reduce the need for plastic production, which is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling one ton of plastic can save around 3.8 barrels of crude oil and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 1.5 metric tons. These statistics highlight the importance of recycling number 8 plastic and its positive environmental impact.


While not commonly recycled, some number 8 plastics like polycarbonate can be recycled in certain areas that accept them. Checking locally, sorting properly, and cleaning are key steps. Recycling helps conserve resources and limit environmental issues. With extra effort, even tricky-to-recycle plastics can be kept out of landfills.

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