Is Number 9 Plastic Recyclable?

With plastic waste filling our landfills and littering our oceans, many eco-conscious consumers want to know if they can recycle number 9 plastic. The short answer is – it’s complicated. While not all number 9 plastics are accepted by curbside recycling programs, new technologies are emerging to handle these tricky plastics.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about number 9 plastic recyclability. You’ll learn what makes this plastic type unique, why it’s excluded from many municipal recycling streams, and innovative solutions that are enabling more 9 plastics to be diverted from landfills.

What is Number 9 Plastic?

Number 9 plastic, also known as “Other” or “Mixed Plastics,” refers to a category of plastic that does not fall under the common recycle codes. It is a catch-all category for various types of plastics that are not easily identified or recycled. Number 9 plastic is typically a blend of different plastics or contains additives that make it difficult to separate and recycle.

Basic Composition

Number 9 plastic can be made from a variety of materials, including polystyrene, polycarbonate, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These plastics are often used in the manufacturing of toys, car parts, electrical components, and other miscellaneous items. The composition of number 9 plastic can vary depending on the specific product and manufacturer.

Common Items and Uses

Number 9 plastic is used in a wide range of products due to its versatility and cost-effectiveness. Some common items made from number 9 plastic include:

  • Toys and games
  • Automotive parts
  • Electrical wiring
  • Medical devices
  • Disposable utensils and cutlery
  • Packaging materials

While number 9 plastic can be found in many everyday items, the recycling options for this type of plastic are limited. Due to its complex composition and lack of standardized recycling processes, number 9 plastic is not commonly accepted by most curbside recycling programs. However, there are some specialized recycling facilities that may be able to process number 9 plastic.

It’s important to check with your local recycling center or waste management facility to see if they accept number 9 plastic. If they do not, it is best to dispose of number 9 plastic in the regular trash. Remember to always follow proper waste disposal guidelines to minimize environmental impact.

Why is Number 9 Plastic Not Recycled?

Number 9 plastic, also known as low-density polyethylene (LDPE), is one of the seven types of plastic designated for recycling. However, compared to other types of plastic, such as Number 1 (PET) or Number 2 (HDPE), Number 9 plastic faces more challenges when it comes to recycling. Let’s explore some of the reasons why Number 9 plastic is not recycled as extensively as other types.

Lack of Markets

One of the primary reasons for the limited recycling of Number 9 plastic is the lack of markets for recycled LDPE. Unlike plastics like PET and HDPE, which have well-established markets for recycled materials, there is a comparatively smaller demand for recycled LDPE products. This lack of market demand makes it less economically viable for recycling facilities to invest in the infrastructure and processes required for recycling Number 9 plastic.

Challenging Materials

Number 9 plastic poses unique challenges when it comes to recycling due to its composition. LDPE is a flexible and lightweight plastic commonly used for items such as plastic bags, shrink wrap, and squeeze bottles. Its flexibility and lightweight nature make it resistant to breaking down and more difficult to process in recycling facilities. The properties that make LDPE suitable for certain applications also make it harder to recycle efficiently.

Sorting Difficulties

Another obstacle in recycling Number 9 plastic is the difficulty in sorting it from other types of plastic. In recycling facilities, plastic waste needs to be sorted by type before it can be processed. However, the identification and separation of Number 9 plastic from other plastics can be challenging due to the lack of clear visual indicators. This sorting difficulty further adds to the complexity and cost of recycling LDPE.

While Number 9 plastic is recyclable, its lower recycling rates compared to other plastics highlight the need for increased awareness and infrastructure development to improve its recycling prospects. By creating more demand for recycled LDPE products, investing in advanced recycling technologies, and improving sorting processes, we can work towards a more sustainable and efficient recycling system for all types of plastic.

Municipal Curbside Recycling Rules

Variations By Location

When it comes to recycling, rules can vary greatly depending on your location. Municipalities set their own guidelines for what can and cannot be recycled. This means that while number 1 and number 2 plastics are commonly accepted for recycling across the board, the rules for recycling number 9 plastics may differ.

If you’re unsure about whether or not number 9 plastic is recyclable in your area, it’s best to check with your local recycling center or waste management department. They will have the most up-to-date information on what can be recycled in your specific location.

Recent Policy Trends

In recent years, there has been a push for increased recycling efforts and more sustainable waste management practices. Many municipalities have implemented policies to encourage recycling and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Some cities have started accepting a wider range of plastics for recycling, including number 9 plastics. This is due to advancements in recycling technology and the increasing demand for recycled materials.

However, it’s important to note that not all cities have adopted these changes. The availability of recycling options for number 9 plastics may still be limited in some areas.

For more information on recycling guidelines in your area, you can visit websites such as or These websites provide valuable resources and information on recycling practices, including specific guidelines for different types of plastics.

Remember, when it comes to recycling, it’s always best to follow the rules set by your local municipality. Proper recycling practices help to reduce waste, conserve resources, and protect our environment for future generations.

Innovative Recycling Solutions

As the world continues to grapple with the issue of plastic waste, innovative recycling solutions are crucial in finding sustainable ways to manage and repurpose these materials. One type of plastic that often raises questions is number 9 plastic. Let’s explore some of the innovative recycling solutions that are being developed to address this issue.

Chemical Recycling

Chemical recycling is a promising solution for recycling number 9 plastic, also known as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This process involves breaking down the plastic into its chemical components, which can then be used to create new plastic products. Chemical recycling has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators.

Companies like Plastic Energy are leading the way in chemical recycling technology. They use a process called thermal anaerobic conversion, which converts plastic waste into a raw material called Tacoil. This raw material can be used as a feedstock for new plastic production, reducing the need for virgin materials.


Plastic-to-fuel technology is another innovative solution for recycling number 9 plastic. This process involves converting plastic waste into usable fuel, such as diesel or gasoline. By transforming plastic waste into a valuable resource, plastic-to-fuel technology helps reduce reliance on fossil fuels and offers an alternative to traditional recycling methods.

One company at the forefront of plastic-to-fuel technology is Agilyx. Using a process called pyrolysis, they break down plastic waste into its basic chemical components, which can then be converted into fuel. This technology not only reduces plastic waste but also offers an opportunity to create a greener energy source.


Pyrolysis is a thermal decomposition process that can be used to convert number 9 plastic into valuable byproducts. This innovative recycling solution involves heating the plastic waste in the absence of oxygen, breaking it down into gases, liquids, and solid residues. These byproducts can be further processed to create new materials or used as a source of energy.

Companies like Plastic2Oil use pyrolysis technology to convert plastic waste into fuel oil, carbon black, and other valuable materials. Through this process, they are able to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste and create new economic opportunities.

Recycling Tips for Consumers

Check Locally

When it comes to recycling, it’s important to check with your local recycling center or municipality to understand what types of plastics are accepted. Different regions have different recycling facilities and guidelines, so what may be recyclable in one area may not be in another. To find out the specific recycling rules in your area, you can visit the website of your local recycling center or contact your local waste management department. They will have the most up-to-date information on what can and cannot be recycled.

When in Doubt, Leave it Out

If you’re unsure whether a specific plastic item can be recycled, it’s best to err on the side of caution and leave it out of your recycling bin. Contaminating the recycling stream with non-recyclable materials can have a negative impact on the overall recycling process. It can lead to increased costs and potentially compromise the recyclability of other materials. Remember, it’s better to recycle correctly than to contaminate the recycling stream with items that cannot be processed.

When it comes to number 9 plastic, also known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the recyclability can vary. In some areas, number 9 plastic may be accepted for recycling, while in others it may not be. It’s important to check with your local recycling center to determine if number 9 plastic is accepted in your area. Additionally, some plastic items made from number 9 plastic, such as PVC pipes or vinyl siding, may be recyclable through specialty recycling programs. Again, it’s best to check with your local recycling center for guidance on these specific items.

Remember, recycling is a collective effort and requires the participation of both consumers and recycling centers. By following the guidelines provided by your local recycling center and being mindful of what you place in your recycling bin, you can contribute to a more effective and efficient recycling process.


While number 9 plastics have traditionally been excluded from curbside recycling streams, new technologies are emerging to handle these materials. Consumers should check with local programs to understand current capabilities. With more innovation and infrastructure investment, even tricky plastics may join the recycling loop in the future.

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